Attackers armed with guns and knives struck a mosque outside the South African city of Durban on Thursday, stabbing to death a priest and seriously injuring two others, medical services told AFP.
"The imam, who had his throat slit, has passed away a few minutes ago due to his injuries," Paul Herbst, spokesman for the private IPSS medical rescue service, told AFP.
The three attackers escaped in a Hyundai car from the Imam Hussain mosque in Verulam town on the outskirts of Durban.
Prem Balram, spokesman for Reaction Unit South Africa, said he had arrived at the mosque to find two victims covered in blood lying in the forecourt of the mosque.
He said a third victim had been attacked inside the building, which was then set alight, and had jumped up of a window.
"Eyewitnesses said three attackers with guns had used knives to slit the victims' throats. One knife was left behind," Balram said, speaking from the scene.
"There have been theft and robbery incidents at mosques before, but not like this when nothing appears to have been taken."
He said all the three were seriously injured, with two in a critical condition. They were rushed to nearby government and private hospitals.
The police confirmed the incident but gave no further details.
South Africa has a history of relative religious tolerance. About 1.5 per cent of the country's population is Muslim.
Attackers armed with guns and knives struck a mosque outside the South African city of Durban on Thursday, stabbing to death a priest and seriously injuring two others