May 13, 2018 / 7:40 PM / 6 months ago

Suspected explosive device found at South Africa mosque

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A suspected explosive device was discovered on Sunday in a mosque near the South African port city of Durban where a fatal knife attack occurred last week, police said.

South Africa is racked by violent crime and social strife rooted in poverty and glaring income disparities, but it is seldom associated with the Islamist militancy seen on other parts of the continent.

“The bomb squad is there now in the mosque and they will give us a report if it is an explosive device or not,” said Simphiwe Mhlongo, a spokesman for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, an elite police unit known as the “Hawks.”

He said the mosque had been swept by investigators on Friday and that nothing suspicious was found at that time.

Footage from the eNCA TV news network showed a large police presence at the mosque and worshippers and bystanders gathered outside, hundreds of meters (yards) away behind police tape.

Prem Balram, a spokesman for Reaction Unit SA, a private emergency service, was quoted on the News24 online news service as saying the mosque and homes in the area were evacuated “after a device resembling a bomb has been found inside the building”.

Three men armed with guns and knives attacked worshippers at the mosque near Durban on Thursday. One person was killed after his throat was slit, and two others were injured.

No arrests have been made yet in connection with that attack, Mhlongo said.

REditing by Edmund Blair

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