Five people have been killed in a hostage situation at a Pentecostal church in South Africa Saturday.
Police and military who responded to reports of a shooting at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church headquarters in Zuurbekom near Johannesburg found four people “shot and burned to death in a car” and a security guard shot in another car.
It happened around 3 a.m. local time, according to reports. Police hostage negotiators were still on the scene hours later.
The Associated Press described the church as long-troubled.
Police arrested 40 individuals. Six people have been injured.
Police say children were among those rescued. They say the attack by a group of armed people “may have been motivated by a feud” between church members.
More than 25 firearms have been seized, according to Reuters.
Khehla John Sitole, the National Commissioner of Police General, said the quick response by authorities averted even more destruction and death, according to ABC News.
“I am certain that the speedy response by the joint security forces has averted what could have been a more severe blood bath,” Sitole said in a statement Saturday. “It is rather unfortunate that such an incident takes place during a time when South Africa is being plagued by a deadly virus and violent crimes.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.