JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s elite police unit has taken over the investigation of a mosque attack near Durban which killed one person because “extremism” is suspected as a possible motive, an official said on Friday.
Africa’s most industrialised country is racked by violent crime and social strife rooted in poverty and glaring income disparities but is seldom associated with the Islamist militancy seen in other parts of the continent.
No suspects have been arrested yet over Thursday’s attack by three men armed with guns and knives in which two worshippers were also injured. Witnesses said the suspects, who set the mosque alight, were Egyptian.
“Upon assessing the crime scene it was found that there was an element of extremism to it,” said Simphiwe Mhlongo, a spokesman for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known popularly as the “Hawks.”
The victim who died had had his throat cut.
Local media reported on Friday that the victim was the mosque’s imam and that he was from Canada but Mhlongo could not confirm those details.
Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Richard Balmforth