South Africa church attack: five dead after ‘hostage situation’ near Johannesburg
It was not clear how many people were rescued, but police confiscated more than 40 guns
Five people were dead and more than 40 were arrested after hostages were taken at a church near Johannesburg, South African police said on Saturday.
They said officers and troops who responded to reports of a shooting at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church Headquarters in Zuurbekom found four people “shot and burned to death in a car” and a security guard shot in another car. Six others were injured.
Police said they rescued men, women and children who had been held hostage and who appeared to have lived at the church.
It was not clear how many people were rescued. Police also confiscated more than 40 guns, local media reported.
The church, west of Johannesburg, is one of the largest and reportedly the richest in the country. Local media reported the hostage situation was related to an ongoing battle over control of the building.
Photos tweeted by the police showed more than a dozen men lying on the ground, subdued, along with rifles, pistols, boxes of ammunition – including at least one marked “law enforcement” – handheld radios, bolt cutters, a tyre iron and a baseball bat.
Among those arrested were members of the police, defence forces and correctional services.
Police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo told the eNCA television station: “Everything was in complete disarray, so we have arrested all those that we reasonably believe are suspects, we are busy interviewing and interrogating them to establish exactly what the motive was.”
Updated: July 12, 2020 04:12 PM