At least five people were left dead and more than 40 arrested after a church hostage drama unfolded on Saturday at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Zuurbekom, West of Johannesburg, South Africa Police Service (SAPS) said.
“A group of armed people came to the Modise church and allegedly attacked people who were inside, indicating that they were coming to take over the premises,’’ said National Police Spokesperson, Vishnu Naidoo, in a statement.
Four people were found shot and burnt to death in a car, while a fifth victim, a security guard, was also fatally shot in his car while he was apparently attending to the complaint.
Police arrested over 40 suspects and seized 34 firearms, including rifles, shotguns and pistols.
“These units have also rescued men, women and children who are said to be living in the compound and were being held hostage,’’ Naidoo added.
It is believed that the attack may have been motivated by a feud between conflicted parties in the church.
In November 2018, a shoot-out between feuding factions of the church left three people wounded outside the church.
The factions have been at loggerheads since the church leader and founder, Comforter Glayton Modise, died in 2016.