Five killed in siege at S African church | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 12, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:59 AM, July 12, 2020

Five killed in siege at S African church

Five people were killed in an attack on a church west of Johannesburg in the early hours of yesterday, South African police said, with some of the attackers taking hostages who were later freed.

Police arrested around 40 people and seized 40 firearms, including rifles, shotguns and handguns, related to the attack on the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom, police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo told the eNCA television station.

Police earlier posted pictures of some of the confiscated weapons on Twitter, saying they were dealing with a "hostage situation and shooting".

One potential motive for the attack is a power struggle at the church between rival factions, local media reported.

Four people were found shot and burnt to death in a car while a fifth victim, a security guard, was also fatally shot, local authorities said.

The National Commissioner of Police General Khehla John Sitole said the quick response by authorities averted even more destruction and death.

"I am certain that the speedy response by the joint security forces has averted what could have been a more severe blood bath," Sitole said in a statement yesterday. " ... It is rather unfortunate that such an incident takes place during a time when South Africa is being plagued by a deadly virus and violent crimes."

The South African Police Service and National Defense Force responded to reports of a shooting and an alleged hostage situation at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church at 3:00 am local time.

Authorities do not believe a terrorist group is responsible for the attack, but "may have been motivated by a feud between conflicted parties of the church."

A group of armed people, police said, came to the church and allegedly attacked people who were inside, indicating that they were coming to take over the premises, reports ABC News online.

Responding authorities said they also rescued multiple men, women and children, who were said to be living in the compound and being allegedly held hostage.

Police said they have arrested over 40 suspects, including six people who have been taken to hospital.

 

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