2 dead in South Africa mosque stabbing, attacker killed

Clerics emerge after visiting a Malmesbury mosque, 50 kilometers north of Cape Town, where two worshippers were stabbed dead. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2018
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2 dead in South Africa mosque stabbing, attacker killed

MALMESBURY, South Africa: A man stabbed two people to death and wounded two others in an attack at a mosque in South Africa on Thursday, before being shot dead by police, officers said.
Police have surrounded the building in Malmesbury near Cape Town outside which a body lay under a tree and a penknife had been discarded nearby, said an AFP correspondent at the scene. The attacker’s motive remains unclear.
It comes just a month after a deadly stabbing at another South African mosque which police said had “elements of extremism” and left an Islamic leader dead.
Police were alerted by early morning worshippers and arrived at Malmesbury’s mosque to find two people had died of stab wounds, Noloyiso Rwexana, spokeswoman for the Western Cape police, said.
Two other people were wounded and are being treated in hospital.
“The suspect, believed to be in his thirties and armed with a knife, charged at the police who tried to persuade him to hand himself over,” she said.
“He ignored the calls and tried to attack police. He was shot dead.”
Rwexana said police are now “combing the scene for clues.”
Local media said the suspect was Somali, but police have not confirmed this.
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), which represents the Muslim community in South Africa, said it was “shocked to the core” over the incident, which came at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The MJC appealed to the community to not jump to conclusions about the attacker’s motives and said its top leadership would travel to the area to assist the community.
It comes a month after an attack at a mosque in the town of Verulam, on the outskirts of the eastern port city of Durban.
Three unidentified assailants killed a Mosque leader on May 10 by slitting his throat and injured two others after midday prayers.
The assailants in that attack, who also set off a petrol bomb inside the mosque, escaped in a car and remain at large.
Their motive remains unclear, but a police spokesman said at the time that the attack had “elements of extremism. It shows hatred toward the worshippers.”
The Verulam attack was a watershed moment for South Africa, where about 1.5 percent of the country’s 55 million population is Muslim.
Asked if Thursday’s attack was the first of its kind in the region, police spokesman lieutenant colonel Andre Traut said: “I can’t recall of another incident, but all possibilities are being investigated.”
“It’s way too soon to speculate as to a possible motive — or link with any other incident in the country,” he told the eNCA broadcaster.
The country prides itself on religious tolerance and has been spared the extremist attacks that have dogged other countries on the African continent.
Neighboring Mozambique has been rocked by a wave of attacks blamed on militants in recent months.
Since October around 30 people have been killed with knives and machetes in the country’s far north, a region that has been earmarked as a potential hub for natural gas exploration.


Three dead as strong quake shakes Japan’s Osaka

Updated 2 min 33 sec ago
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Three dead as strong quake shakes Japan’s Osaka

TOKYO: A powerful quake rocked Japan’s second city of Osaka on Monday, killing three people including a nine-year-old girl and injuring scores of others, according to an official tally.
Television images showed buildings swaying and burst pipes spewing water after the quake, which struck at the height of rush hour in the city of around two million people.
However, there was no large-scale destruction and no tsunami warning issued after the earthquake, although commuters were stranded and tens of thousands were left without power.
Among the casualties was a nine-year-old girl who died in the city of Takatsuki, north of Osaka city, reportedly trapped by a collapsed wall following the 5.3-magnitude quake.
Public broadcaster NHK said an 80-year-old man had also been killed by a collapsing wall and another man trapped under a bookcase in his home.
In addition to the three deaths, the government’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said at least 91 people were injured.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters the government was “working united, with its first priority on saving people’s lives.”
And government spokesman Yoshihide Suga cautioned “there is a possibility that strong aftershocks will happen.”
“Large-scale quakes are likely to happen in the next two to three days,” he told reporters.
Japan sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire” where a large proportion of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.
On March 11, 2011, a devastating magnitude 9.0 quake struck under the Pacific Ocean, and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage and claimed thousands of lives.
It also sent three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing Japan’s worst postwar disaster and the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
Local residents described the moment the quake jolted the highly urbanized area at 8:00 am, when platforms would have been heaving with passengers waiting to board their commuter trains.
“The floor moved violently. It was a strong vertical jolt. Nearly all of the dishes fell and shattered on the floor,” said Kaori Iwakiri, a 50-year-old nurse in Moriguchi, just north of Osaka city.
“My parents suffered a blackout and they have no water. I plan to take water to them now.”
Despite its relatively low magnitude, the quake caused quite a shake, registering a lower six on the Japanese experiential scale of up to seven, meaning it is hard to stay standing.
Eiji Shibuya, 52, said the tremor reminded him of the devastating 1995 Kobe earthquake, which killed nearly 6,500 people.
“I was stunned. I couldn’t do anything,” he told AFP from Itami, a city in eastern Osaka region.
“I was worried about my son as he had just left for his high school. I was relieved when I confirmed he was safe.”
NHK showed footage of firefighters tackling a blaze that ripped through a home north of Osaka.
A number of train services were suspended, including the “shinkansen” bullet train, as multiple smaller aftershocks followed the quake.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said it had detected no problems at its local atomic power plants, but some companies, including Honda, said they had suspended operations at local plants.
Kansai Electric said on its website that around 170,000 homes in the Osaka region were briefly without power.
“There are fears that the risk of house collapses and landslides has increased in the areas shaken strongly,” said Toshiyuki Matsumori, in charge of monitoring quakes at the meteorological agency.