Five people have been killed after attackers stormed a South African church, reportedly amid an argument over its leadership.
South African police said they had rescued men, women and children from a ‘hostage situation’ on the outskirts of Johannesburg on Saturday morning. They have also arrested at least 40 people, and seized dozens of weapons. Eyewitnesses say the men who stormed the International Pentecostal Holiness Church were part of a splinter group.
The church’s leadership has reportedly been the subject of infighting since its former leader died in 2016. Police had previously been called to the church following a shoot-out between members in 2018, South Africa’s IOL reported.
The year before, the church’s finances had come under the spotlight, amid allegations some 110m rand (€5.7m) had gone missing, according to The Sowetan newspaper.
On Saturday, police were called to the church in Zuurbekom in the West Rand at 3am local time.
According to national police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo, a group of attackers indicated to those inside “that they were coming to take over the premises”.