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Soweto mass shooting: South African police say 15 killed in late night attack on bar

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP
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People can be seen walking during a night patrol around Pimville, Soweto, May 10, 2022. Daily community patrols increased their presence due to rising crime.
People can be seen walking during a night patrol around Pimville, Soweto, May 10, 2022. Daily community patrols increased their presence due to rising crime.   -   Copyright  GUILLEM SARTORIO / AFP

A mass shooting at a bar in Johannesburg's Soweto township has killed 15 people and left others in critical condition, South African police said.

Police say they are investigating reports that a group of men arrived in a minibus taxi and opened fire on people in the bar late on Saturday night. 

The police were called in the night, around half past midnight. "When we arrived at the scene, 12 people were dead with gunshot wounds," local police officer Nonhlanhla Kubheka told AFP.

Eleven injured people were taken to hospital and two died shortly after arrival, she said early this morning.

No details were available on the attackers. "They came in and shot at the people who were having fun," said Kubheka, commander of the Orlando police station, the area of Soweto where the shooting took place.

No arrests have been made and an investigation has been launched. On Sunday morning police were still at the scene, removing bodies.

The bar is located in the Orlando East area of Soweto, the largest township in Johannesburg, southwest of the city.

The number of cartridges found on the scene indicated it was a group of people who shot at those in the bar, said Gauteng province police commissioner Lt. Gen. Elias Mawela.

“The primary investigation suggests that these people were enjoying themselves here, in a licensed tavern operating within the right hours," Mawela told The Associated Press.

“All of a sudden they heard some gunshots, that is when people tried to run out of the tavern. We don’t have the full details at the moment of what is the motive, and why they were targeting these people," he said.

“You can see that a high calibre firearm was used and it was shooting randomly. You can see that every one of those people were struggling to get out of the tavern,” Mawela told The Associated Press.

Rifles and a 9 mm pistol were used in the attack, said national police spokeswoman Col. Dimakatso Sello.

In a separate incident, four people were shot dead by unknown gunmen at a tavern in Sweetwaters township in the coastal city of Pietermaritzburg on Saturday night. Police said eight other people are receiving treatment in hospital.

The bar shootings come two weeks after 21 teenagers were found dead in a tavern in the city of East London. The cause has not yet been announced, but officials say they were not shot or crushed in a stampede.