A man has attacked worshipers at a mosque in South Africa with a knife, killing at least two people.
The deadly incident occurred in Malmesbury, a small town in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, on Thursday morning, local police said.
Police added that several other people had also been wounded in the attack before the assailant was shot dead by police.
“Malmesbury police were called out to a local mosque and found two people dead with stab wounds and several injured,” said Noliyoso Rwexana, a spokesperson for the Western Cape police.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut, a provincial police spokesperson, police forces in Malmesbury were called out to the mosque in the early hours of the morning.
“A couple of hours ago — about 03:00 — as people got themselves ready to pray, the suspect just got up and started stabbing the people,” said Malmesbury Police Constable Henry Durant, adding that the assailant had been among the worshipers apparently praying with them.
Durant said the assailant attempted to cut an old man’s head off with his knife “and the man died.”
Fellow worshipers also said that the suspect, believed to be a foreign national in his 30s, had not raised suspicions before the sudden rampage.
Traut, the provincial police spokesperson, explained that police officers approached the assailant, who refused to lay down his Rambo knife and charged at the officers. “He ignored the calls and tried to attack police. He was shot and killed in the process. His death will be investigated by IPID (the Independent Police Investigative Directorate).”
The assault came at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and some five weeks after another attack at a Shia mosque in Verulam, in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal, in which one person was killed and two others sustained critical injuries when knife-wielding men attacked worshipers. The suspects in that attack, who also torched the mosque before fleeing, have not been arrested yet.