Five killed in South Africa church hostage situation

Suspected attackers on the ground(Photo: i24)

A hostage situation at a church in South Africa left five people dead. 

At least 40 people were arrested after the attack on the church in the town of Zuurbekom on the outskirts of Johannesburg on Saturday morning. 

The attack took place at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church and was reportedly connected to a leadership dispute triggered by the death of its former leader in 2016. 

The attackers formed part of an offshoot of the megachurch congregation and had threatened to take over the building by force, eye witnesses said. 

Men, women and children who had been taken hostage were rescued by police. 

Four of the victims were shot and then burnt to death in cars.  A fifth victim was a security guard at the church. 

Dozens of weapons were seized at the scene. 

Some of the people rounded up by police were officials from the South African police, the National Defense Force, the Johannesburg Metro Police and the Department of Correctional Services. 

"Four people were found shot and burnt to death in a car while a fifth victim, a security guard, was also fatally shot in his car while he was apparently attending this complaint," National Commissioner of Police General Khehla John Sitole said, according to IOL.

"The crime scene is still being processed and the figures of arrests and firearms seized may fluctuate as the Special Task Force, Tactical Response Team and Visible Policing members continue to comb the compound," Sitole said.

"These Units have also rescued men women and children who are said to be living in the compound and were being held hostage."