Verulam mosque attack: Victim to be buried while all activities suspended

2018-05-11 14:15
Police cordoned off the area around the mosque in Verulam shortly after the attack. (Mxolisi Mngadi/News24)

Police cordoned off the area around the mosque in Verulam shortly after the attack. (Mxolisi Mngadi/News24)

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The man killed in an attack on a Shia mosque in Verulam on Thursday is expected to be buried today while all activities at the mosque have been suspended.

There were no Friday prayers at the KwaZulu-Natal mosque and one worshipper told News24 that prayers were taking place at a nearby house instead.

ALSO READ: Attack on mosque described as a 'heinous' and 'senseless' crime

A group of knife-wielding men targeted the mosque on Thursday afternoon, slitting the throats of three people, including the moulana.

The Hawks have since taken over the crime scene and the mosque has been cordoned off. Forensic investigators were on the scene.

KZN Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo said Abbas Essop, 20, died on his way to hospital, while Ali Enchinaye and Mohammed Ali were seriously injured.

No arrests

He said they were investigating one count of murder, two of attempted murder and a case of arson.

No arrests have been made.

Afzaal Sayed, a member of the community who goes to the mosque, told News24 that Enchinaye, the mosque's moulana, has been released from hospital.

ALSO READ: Bleeding Muslim cleric jumped out of window to escape KZN mosque attackers

He said he was released on Thursday night at about 23:00.

"He is recovering at his home," he said.

Sayed said Essop's funeral was expected to take place at the mosque around 17:00 on Friday.

Azad Seedat, the mosque's chairperson, told News24 on Thursday that he couldn't rule out the possibility that the attack might be linked to terrorist groups.

Suspected extremism

"This is a sensitive issue and we can't speculate what happened. But we have complete faith in the police to investigate the motive of the attack," he said.

Mhlongo had earlier told News24 that they suspected elements of extremism in the attack.

There were allegations that the attack was carried out by Egyptian nationals who were against Shia Muslims.

ALSO READ: Hawks investigate 'elements of extremism' in Verulam mosque attack

Ayman Walash, head of the Press and Information Office in the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Pretoria, said the nationalities of the attackers cannot be confirmed at this stage.

"No official information or official statements by security, local police of KwaZulu-Natal or others in South Africa, confirm or deny the suspects are Egyptians. The official statement by [the] Hawks unit which has joined the mosque attack investigations, hasn't specified the perpetrators' nationalities," he said.

Walash assured that there were ongoing investigations and that they were following the developments of the investigations "until the concrete facts of the attack are revealed".

"Egypt consistently, unequivocally and strongly condemns extremism in all its forms and manifestations. We express our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and we wish a speedy and full recovery to those who have been injured," Walash said.

* This story has been updated to reflect the change in burial time. It was initially stated that the funeral would take place at 15:00. It is now expected to take place at 17:00.

Read more on:    durban  |  religion  |  crime  |  security

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