Church hostage massacre in South Africa: Thirty gunmen storm place of worship and leave five dead after ‘feud between warring Christian religious factions’
- The killings took place at International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom
- It is believed the massacre happened amid a leadership battle at the church
- Police scrambled to the scene at 3am local time and the massacre is ongoing
Five people have been killed and dozens arrested in an ongoing church massacre in Johannesburg.
The bloodbath took place at the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom, and a specialised police team and heavily-armed national defence force remain at the scene.
It is believed the killings came amid a leadership battle at the church, as officers scrambled to the scene at 3am local time.
Thirty people have been arrested and more than 25 firearms seized, police said.
Suspects were seen laying face down as police urged people to steer clear of the area
Officers said more than 25 firearms have so far been seized
A series of photos were posted on Twitter as officers have arrested 30 suspects
A post on Twitter revealed that hostage negotiators remain at the scene
It is not yet clear if those that have been killed were among the assailants or hostages.
Horrifying images released by police show suspects laying face down on the ground with hands on their heads.
Another image reveals guns stacked on the floor next to what look like boxes of ammunition.
Authorities urged the public to steer clear of the area.
A Twitter post revealed: ‘Early hours this morning #SAPS was alerted to a hostage situation & shooting @ International Pentcost Holiness Church, Zuurbekom, 30 suspects arrested & seized more than 25 firearms.
‘5 fatalities are confirmed. The scene is still active with SAPS Hostage Negotiators. TM.’
The International Pentecost Holiness Church, which has a membership of three million, has become divided in its search for a successor to former leader Glayon Modise.
He died in February 2016 without appointing a successor, The South African reported.
His songs Leonard and Tshepiso have both since been vying for control, with Leonard having previously occupied church buildings by force during the dispute.
It is not yet known if today’s hostage situation is relating to the ongoing row.