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Police, Hawks to prioritise Malmesbury mosque attack

National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole has given an update to Parliament’s police committee on the attack which took place early on Thursday morning.

A member of the bomb disposal unit inspects a bag belonging to the Malmesbury mosque attacker on 14 June 2018. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The police and the Hawks are prioritising the mosque attack in Malmesbury that left three people dead.

National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole has given an update to Parliament’s police committee on the attack which took place early on Thursday morning. It’s understood two people were stabbed to death. The suspect was also killed during a standoff with police.

LISTEN: Details emerge of Malmesbury mosque attack

The police's national management is currently briefing Parliament on various programmes. Sithole said: "Of the two deceased who was attacked and killed, one is a Somalian. The attacker is also a Somalian. On the intelligence side, they’re still on the scene."

Meanwhile, at the scene, cars lined up outside the mosque and at a house of one of the victims who was stabbed to death.

The entrance to the place of worship has been cordoned off as police investigate.

The bomb disposal unit has been brought to the scene of the deadly attack. It's simply a precaution.

The attacker’s body can be seen on a field about a kilometre away from the mosque. The area around his body has been cordoned off.

Members of the bomb disposal unit can be seen inspecting scene and a bag that belonged to the attacker.

Local police say the man was in prayer with worshippers at the mosque when he attacked them. He then ran outside and chased community members.

Police were alerted, and the man was tracked down to the field, where he tried to attack an officer. He was then shot and killed. The motive is unknown at this stage.

Imraan Mukaddam spoke to CapeTalk following the incident. He is a relative of one of the worshippers who was killed.

“One of the people spending time in the mosque went berserk and something happened. The deceased’s throat was slit… that’s as much as I can say now.”

He added: “We started Ramadan with a tragic event and we’re ending it with a tragic event. There are sinister forces at play here. That’s an assumption I’m making. This sectarian issue has driven a lot of division in our communities and it seems people are playing us up against each other. We can’t import conflicts from Syria and the rest of the world into South Africa. Muslims in South Africa, we’ve been contributing to peace for the past 300 years.”

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has also condemned the incident. The organisation's Mishkah Daries said: “The Muslim Judicial Council is shocked to its core to learn of a brutal attack at the Malmesbury mosque during the early hours of this morning. We can confirm two people were killed.

The attack comes a month after a similar incident at a Verulam mosque in KwaZulu-Natal which left three people dead.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)