Five people have been killed after attackers stormed a South African church amid an argument over its leadership as South African police said they had rescued men, women and children from a “hostage situation”.
The incident occurred on the outskirts of Johannesburg this morning and about 40 people were arrested and tens of weapons seized.
The men who stormed the International Pentecostal Holiness Church were part of a splinter group as the church’s leadership has been reportedly enmeshed in internal wrangling after the death of its former leader in 2016.
In 2018, the police responded to a call after a shoot out took place between the church members in 2018.
In 2017, allegations that some 110m rand ($6.5m; £5.2m) had gone missing caused a stir.
Earlier today, the police were called to the church in Zuurbekom in the West Rand at 03:00 local time (01:00 GMT).
National police spokesperson, Brigadier Vish Naidoo said a group of attackers indicated to those inside “that they were coming to take over the premises”.
He hinted that four people had been found shot and burnt to death in cars, while a security guard, who was thought to have been responding to the incident, was also fatally shot.
Five rifles, 16 shotguns and 13 pistols, along with other weapons, were found at the church, which police have been combing for evidence.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) said that among those arrested were members of SAPS, the South African National Defence Force, the Johannesburg Metro Police Department and the Department of Correctional Services.
The International Pentecostal Holiness Church is thought to have about three million members in Southern Africa.