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Hawks investigate ‘elements of extremism’ in KZN mosque attack

Police officers stand outside the Imam Hussain Mosque where three members of the clergy where attacked with knives, hours earlier, in Durban, South Africa, 10 May 2018. 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. A man died in hospital due to significant injuries while two others remain in a critical condition. EPA-EFE/STR

There are elements of extremism in the attack of a KwaZulu-Natal mosque where one man died and two others were seriously injured, the Hawks said on Friday.

KwaZulu-Natal Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo told News24 that the Hawks were leading the investigation following the attack at the Imam Hussain Mosque in Ottawa, Verulam, north of Durban on Thursday.

“There are elements of extremism that we have noticed. There is some sort of hatred pertaining to religion… hence we’re saying there were elements of extremism,” said Mhlongo.

He said the Hawks were investigating one count of murder, two of attempted murder and one count of assault.

He said the deceased was Abbas Essop, who was in his late 20s.

“The two other people are in a critical condition in hospital,” he said.

No arrests have been made.

Mhlongo added that the Hawks were working with the SAPS and local security companies to investigate the matter.

He urged anyone with information to contact their local police station.

Azad Seedat, the mosque’s chairperson, told News24 on Thursday evening that he couldn’t rule out the possibility that a terrorist group was behind the attack.

He confirmed that the mosque was attended by Shia Muslims and that its library had been petrol bombed during the attack. DM

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