Neighbours comfort one another behind a police cordon where ten people from the same family were shot dead Friday, April 21, 2023. [AP Photo]
Ten members of the same family, seven of them female and one a 13-year-old boy, were killed in a mass shooting at a house in South Africa, police said Friday.
A male suspect was killed in a shootout with police hours after and two men were arrested. A fourth suspect escaped but his identity is known and he is being sought, Police Minister Bheki Cele said.
According to initial reports, the family was ambushed by gunmen at the home in the city of Pietermaritzburg in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, police said. The shooting happened in the predawn hours of Friday.
Police initially announced that the victims were seven women and three men but later said that at least one child, the teenage boy, was among the dead.
The oldest victim of the mass shooting was 65, Cele said, and the youngest was the 13-year-old. He didn’t give the ages of the other victims.
Cele, who was at the scene, said police confronted four men on a street about a mile from the house where the mass shooting occurred and the men fired at officers.
“Police shot back, killed one, injured one, who is arrested, and one is arrested uninjured. One has run away,” Cele said. “Fortunately, they know who ran away.”
Police recovered three guns.
The suspect who was killed by police was “notorious” and linked to other crimes in the area, Cele said, although he didn’t offer a motive for the mass shooting.
The scene at the house where the 10 were killed was “terrible,” Cele said.
“Too many people were lost,” he said.
Police were also questioning the driver of an e-hailing taxi who is believed to have previously transported the four men when they allegedly committed other crimes.
South Africa has one of the highest homicide rates in the world and there has been a spate of mass shootings in recent years.
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Eight people were fatally shot at a birthday party in the south coast city of Gqeberha in January. Last year, 16 people died in a mass shooting at a bar in the Johannesburg township of Soweto when a group of armed men, some of them wielding rifles, opened fire on customers.
On the same day of that Soweto shooting, 12 people were shot, four of them fatally, at a bar in Pietermaritzburg.