Five people have died in a church in South Africa, seemingly over a leadership battle.
At approximately 3am on Saturday, police responded to reports of a shooting and an alleged hostage situation at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church branch in Zuurbekom, a town in the West Rand in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.
A group of armed people had come to the church and allegedly attacked people who were inside indicating that they were coming to take over the premises.
Police are investigating the possibility that this attack may have been motivated by a feud between conflicted parties of the Church.
The church in Zuurbekom is a branch of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, which has around 3 million members.
Three men were said to be competing for the leadership of the church since 2016 when their previous leader, Glayton Modiese, died: Leonard Modise, Michael Sandlana and Tshepiso Modise.
There have already been fights about money and the assets left behind.
Police have arrested over 40 suspects including six people who have been taken to hospital.
South African Police Service photo
Among those arrested are members of South African Police Service, the South African National Defence Force, the Johannesburg Metro Police Department and the Department of Correctional Services.
Over 34 firearms including five rifles, 16 short guns and 13 pistols were seized.
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.
The National Commissioner of Police General Khehla John Sitole said: "I am certain that the speedy response by the joint security forces has averted what could have been a more severe blood bath", said General Sitole.
"I have embarked on a Spiritual Crime Prevention Concept which involves the participation of all religious denominations in the fight against crime. 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", concluded General Sitole.