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1 killed, 2 badly wounded in South Africa mosque attack

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1 killed, 2 badly wounded in South Africa mosque attack

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Attackers entered a South African mosque after midday prayers, stabbed three people and set the place on fire before fleeing, local police said Thursday, as people expressed shock at the kind of attack rarely seen in the country. One of the victims later died, an emergency responder told local media.

“The motive of the attack on the three men is unknown at this stage,” Capt. Nqobile Gwala with police in KwaZulu-Natal province told The Associated Press in an email. “Verulam police are investigating three counts of attempted murder and arson.”

South Africa’s state broadcaster SABC reported that victims were in critical condition after the attack on the mosque in the eastern town of Verulam, just north of the city of Durban.

Images of the scene posted online by SABC showed men receiving medical care on the ground outside the mosque. One man’s white robe was soaked in blood.

Local media cited an emergency responder, Reaction Unit South Africa, as saying three attackers slit people’s throats.

One victim later “passed on,” a member of Reaction Unit South Africa, Prem Balram, told broadcaster eNCA.

The attack came shortly ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins around May 16.

South Africa has not been a target for militant attacks of the kind that occur in some other African countries.

It was too early to comment on the circumstances of the attack, said Nick Piper, a director at Signal Risk, an Africa-focused risk management firm. “Given the low baseline terrorism risk in South Africa, incidents of this nature are, on average and without further evidence, more likely to be linked to personal or communal grievances than acts of terror as we understand them,” he told the AP in an email.

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