Victims burned in a wild church during hostage-taking: Thirty armed men storm the South African place of worship, leaving five dead after "feud between belligerent Christian religious factions".
- The killings took place in the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom
- The massacre is believed to have taken place in a leadership struggle in the church
- The police came to the scene at 3 a.m. local time and the massacre continues
In an ongoing massacre in Johannesburg, five people were killed and dozens arrested.
The carnage took place in the International Pentecostal Church in Zuurbekom, and special police and a heavily armed national defense remain at the scene.
The killings are believed to have taken place in a leadership struggle in the church when officials came to the church at 3:00 a.m. local time after it was reported that 200 people were taken hostage.
According to a statement, four people were found being shot and burned in one car, and a security guard was shot in another car.
Six other people were also injured in the attack.
Suspects were seen face down when the police asked people to stay away from the area
Officers said that more than 25 firearms have been confiscated so far
A number of photos were posted on Twitter when officials arrested 30 suspects
It is not yet clear whether the victims were among the attackers or hostages.
Forty people – including members of the police, defense forces and prisons – were arrested and more than 30 firearms confiscated, the police said.
Terrible images released by the police show suspects lying face down on the floor with their hands on their heads.
Another picture shows weapons stacked on the floor next to ammunition boxes.
The authorities urged the public to stay away from the area.
TV broadcaster eNCA said there was a leadership dispute in the church and quoted a church official as saying that about 200 people were taken hostage.
The police said they saved men, women and children who had been held hostage and who appeared to have lived in the church.
The national police commissioner said the response of the security forces "averted a heavier bloodbath".
A post on Twitter revealed that hostage-takers remain at the scene
A Twitter post revealed: & # 39; In the early morning, #SAPS was made aware of a hostage situation and shot in the International Pentcost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom. 30 suspects were arrested and more than 25 firearms confiscated.
& # 39; 5 deaths are confirmed. The scene is still active with SAPS Hostage Negotiators. TM. & # 39;
The International Pentecostal Church with three million members is split in search of a successor to the former leader Glayon Modise.
He died in February 2016 without appointing a successor, the South African reported.
His songs Leonard and Tshepiso have both been vying for control since then, with Leonard previously violently occupying church buildings during the dispute.
The clashes have led to several court battles over the years.
It is not yet known whether today's hostage situation is related to the current series.
In November 2018, two church factions faced each other in front of the church's silo headquarters, News24 reported.
At that time churchgoers reported that they had been narrowly hit by bullets.
The church was founded in 1911 by Abner Blackmon Crumpler and Benjamin H. Irwin after the merger of two older denominations.
According to its website, the Church believes that "God's power is directly available to everyone to save, cleanse, strengthen, and heal."