Five killed in siege at South African church

Police chief says security forces averted a 'more severe bloodbath'

Rory Sullivan
Sunday 12 July 2020 08:31
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Five dead and 40 arrests after siege on South Africa church

Five people have died during a siege at a church in South Africa on Saturday, allegedly caused by an argument over its leadership.

The incident started in the early hours of Saturday morning at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, west of Johannesburg, according to a tweet from the South African Police Service (SAPS).

In a statement, Brigadier Vish Naidoo, a national police spokesperson, said that four of the deceased had been "shot and burnt to death in a car", while a security guard in another vehicle was the fifth casualty.

The police added that men, women and children were taken hostage inside the church during the attack before being freed.

Security forces arrested around 40 suspects, including members of the police and the defence forces, and seized dozens of guns in their response to the shooting and hostage situation.

It is thought that a feud between different factions at the church could be a potential motive for the siege.

Local media reported that a shoot-out took place at the church in 2018, two years after the death of its leader, Glayton Modise.

Speaking in the aftermath of the attack on Saturday, national police commissioner Khehla John Sitole said that the South African security forces had "averted what could have been a more severe bloodbath".

Additional reporting from agencies

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