A South African mosque where Shia Muslim worshippers were stabbed last week in an attack that police said displayed elements of extremism, was Sunday evacuated after a suspected bomb was found inside, police and private security said.
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - A South African mosque where Shia Muslim worshippers were stabbed last week in an attack that police said displayed elements of extremism, was Sunday evacuated after a suspected bomb was found inside, police and private security said.
One worshipper martyred and two others were wounded in a knife attack in the same mosque last Thursday in Verulam on the outskirts of the eastern port city of Durban.
On Sunday private security responded to a call from worshippers who saw the suspicious device moments before they were to conduct evening prayers.
“We can confirm that there is a device that was found at the mosque. The bomb disposal unit is at the crime scene, they are going to tell us whether it is an explosive device or what kind of device it is,” elite police unit spokesman Simple Mhlongo told AFP.
A private security official Prem Balram said worshippers had told him that “a device that resembled a bomb” which was attached to a phone and was connected into a “white capsule via two cables was found under the chair at the prayer place, it was actually the moulana’s chair,” referring to the Muslim religious leader.
Speaking to the local eNCA television news network, Balram said the entire mosque and up to 40 homes in the vicinity were also evacuated for the safety of residents.
On Thursday, three attackers killed one man by slitting his throat and injured two others after midday prayers at the mosque.
No arrests have been made yet, but Mhlongo said last week’s mosque attack showed “elements of extremism. … It shows hatred towards the worshippers,” he said.
One Muslim leader said the mosque was targeted because it was a Shia place of worship that had received previous threats.
It is believed that the attack was carried out by three men described as “Egyptian nationals” wearing half balaclavas, who managed to flee in a white Hyundai Getz with no registration plates.
The attack has sent shock waves through the local Sunni Muslim community, who condemned the incident and labelled it the worst attack on any South African mosque in history.
An article published by the Sunday Tribune on Sunday said the attack “came in the wake of hate speech against the Shia community that has continued for years, and escalated to unparalleled levels recently”.
In the article, the mosque’s chairperson Azad Seedat was quoted as saying the attackers acted on hate and were copycats of ISIS (Daesh/IS) and that the attackers had visited the mosque three times prior to the attack when it was quiet, prayed, and taken literature and books.
The article went on to say that the Shia mosque was the only one in KwaZulu-Natal and had been mentioned in an open letter calling for action against Shia worshippers.
The Sunday Tribune said the letter was published on the Jamiatul Ulama and other websites. Jamiatul Ulama is a council of South African Muslim theologians.
It also reported that the Imam Hussain is one of only three Shia mosques in South Africa, the others being the Ahlulbait mosque in Cape Town and another in Edenvale, Johannesburg.
National spokesperson of the Shia community, Moulana Sayed Aftab Haider, was also quoted in the Tribune as saying the Shia community represents around 3% of the Muslim community in South Africa.
Haider said in the article that the attack on the Hussain mosque was not an isolated incident but rather the result of hate speech that has been ongoing for years.
(In Pictures: In the attack on the Imam Husayn (a) Masjid in Verulam, Durban on Thursday 10 May 2018, in addition to the brutal murder of Brother Abbas Essop and the seriously assault on the Imam and Muathin, herewith are some pictures of the destruction of parts of the Mosque Complex - the library where Qurans were burnt and the Hall where the remembrance of Ashura was upheld.)