Three people at a masjid in Verulam in the north of Durban in Kwa Zulu Natal were attacked by unknown suspects on Thursday afternoon. According to sources, three men walked into the Imam Hussain masjid, pulled out knives and slit the throat of one of the victims. It’s believed the maulana of the masjid was also attacked. Members of Reaction Unit SA were called out to the mosque on Old Main Road at 14.40pm.
“We were informed telephonically that a terrorist attack was underway at the mosque and that three people were seriously injured. Upon arrival, we found that three victims had their throats slit by three males in a white Hyundai Getz. The victims were transported to hospital in a critical condition,” said Reaction Unit SA spokesperson Prem Balram.
The suspects entered the premises using firearms and knives and following their attack on the victims, set the mosque alight. Graphic images on social media showed the victims soaked in blood as paramedics attended to the scene. Police are searching the area and conducting an investigation to establish the identity of the suspects. On social media, there were widespread reports that the perpetrators were Egyptian nationals, although this could not be verified.
Speaking to VOC Drivetime, Durban based scholar Shaykh Rafeek Haseen said the attack has left the Durban Muslim community in shock.
“Ottawa is a small quiet suburb. There have been no tensions in that area that could spark such a horrific event,” he said.
Amid reports that the mosque is a Shia mosque, Hassen has urged the community not to assume the attack was sectarian. He believes the attack may be linked to the criminal underworld.
“It may be a case of money laundering or a personal issue between the perpetrators and the victims. I do not think we should jump to conclusions that this attack is motivated by sectarianism,” he said.
“There have been violent altercations between Egyptians and locals in this area in the past. And it has a lot to do with the underworld and not religious issues. Verulam has many foreign nationals and we have seen these kind of problems in the past so let’s wait for more information before making it a Sunni-Shia issue. There has been no sectarian conflict to warrant such a situation.”
Police have not given any official comment. VOC