Explosive found in South African mosque days after knife attack

Moulana Ali Nchinyane

Moulana Ali Nchinyane

"We had a meeting with the explosive unit members, who briefed us on the device they had taken away on Sunday near the South African port city of Durban".

The device was attached to a cellphone and placed under a chair at the Imam Hussein Mosque.

Five days ago‚ Abbas Essop‚ a mechanic‚ charged headlong into the mosque in the small town‚ north of Durban‚ after three knife-wielding men stormed the building after midday prayers.

The find came just hours after Police Minister Bheki Cele had visited the site after the fatal knife attack on Thursday.

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.

"They further set certain rooms alight and fled in their getaway vehicle, ' police spokeswoman Nqobile Gwala said in a statement".

Local Islamic leader Aftab Haider told the Guardian that the mosque was likely attacked for being a Shia mosque, and could be connected to a Sunni faction of the Islamic State, which has continually threatened Shia Muslims in South Africa. Reports state that the attackers are believed to be three Egyptian nationals, who allegedly slit the throats of the three people, including the Imam of the mosque.

This kind of attack is uncharacteristic for South Africa, which is known for its religious tolerance and in which only about 1.5 percent of the population identifies as Muslim.

"On assessing the crime scene, it was found there was an element of extremism to it", said Capt. Simphiwe Mhlongo, crime investigation spokesman.

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.

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