JOHANNESBURG — A mass shooting at a tavern in Johannesburg’s Soweto township has killed 15 people and left others in critical condition, police say.
Police said they were investigating reports that a group of men arrived in a minibus taxi and opened fire on some of the bar patrons shortly after midnight on Sunday.
The injured were taken to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
The number of rounds found at the scene indicates a group of people opened fire in the bar, Gauteng Provincial Police Commissioner Lt. Gen. Elias Mawela said.
“Primary investigation suggests that these people were enjoying themselves here, in a licensed tavern operating at good hours,” Mawela told The Associated Press.
“All of a sudden they heard gunshots, that’s when people tried to run out of the tavern. We don’t have full details at the moment on the motive and why they were targeting these people,” he said.
“You can see that a high caliber gun was used and it was firing randomly. You can see that each of these people was struggling to get out of the tavern,” Mawela told The Associated Press .
The area where the shooting took place was very dark, making it harder to find people who could identify the suspects, he said.
Rifles and a 9mm pistol were used in the attack, national police spokeswoman Colonel Dimakatso Sello said.
In a separate incident, four people were shot dead by unidentified gunmen at a tavern in Sweetwaters Township in the coastal town of Pietermaritzburg on Saturday night.
Police say two men entered the tavern and opened fire indiscriminately at customers, killing two people at the scene while two others were confirmed dead in hospital. Police said 8 other people were receiving treatment at a hospital. The deceased were between the ages of 30 and 45 and police are investigating charges of murder and attempted murder, police said.
“The team will be working around the clock to find and bring to justice those responsible for this shooting,” Kwazulu-Natal Police Commissioner Gen. Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said.
The bar shooting comes two weeks after 21 teenagers were found dead in a tavern in the city of East London. The cause of those deaths has yet to be announced by authorities, but the teens were not shot or run over in a stampede, officials said.