Attack at church in South Africa leaves 5 dead

·2 min read

At least five people are dead and more than 40 people arrested in South Africa Saturday following an attack at a church in Zuurbekom, a town in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.

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.

PHOTO: South Africa's National Police Commissioner Gen. Khehla Sitole in Cape Town, South Africa. (Foto24/Gallo Images via Getty Images, File)
PHOTO: South Africa's National Police Commissioner Gen. Khehla Sitole in Cape Town, South Africa. (Foto24/Gallo Images via Getty Images, File)

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 Saturday. " ... 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."

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The South African Police Service and National Defense Force responded Saturday to reports of a shooting and an alleged hostage situation at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church at 3 a.m. 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."

PHOTO: Weapons seized by South African police in connection with a hostage situation and shooting at International Pentecostal Holiness Church, northwest of Pretoria, July 11, 2020. (South African Police Service via Twitter)
PHOTO: Weapons seized by South African police in connection with a hostage situation and shooting at International Pentecostal Holiness Church, northwest of Pretoria, July 11, 2020. (South African Police Service via Twitter)

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.

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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