South African authorities say at least 15 are dead in a mass shooting in the Soweto township, and four others were killed in a similar weekend attack elsewhere.
At least nine were injured in the Soweto shooting just after midnight Sunday morning. Several men carrying rifles and other firearms entered a bar and began shooting randomly, according to police.
Twelve of the victims perished at the scene and three others were declared dead after being transported to a local hospital. The victims are thought to be between the ages of 19 and 35.
Witnesses report a group of men arrived in a white minibus taxi, entered the business and began shooting. Police confirm the bar was licensed and operating legally. Getting good descriptions of the assailants was difficult due to the ensuing panic and the bar’s dimly lit interior.
Despite this, police said many witnesses have come forward to help identify the attackers. There is no word on a possible suspect or motive, and authorities report the gunmen are still in the run.
Another incident at a bar in the coastal town of Pietermaritzburg Saturday night killed at least four and injured eight. Police there say at least two gunmen entered and began firing randomly, much in the way of the later attack on Soweto.
However, they do not believe the incidents are related, and it was uncertain how many shooters were involved in either.
The tragic killings came just two weeks after 21 teens died under mysterious circumstances in an East London bar in South Africa. Initial reports of a stampede causing the horror were ruled out, and the investigation continues into the actual cause.
Everything from the poisoning of something eaten, drank, or smoked to a gas leak is being considered. Some witnesses reported a gas in the air that burned their throats and lungs.
A third tavern shooting occurred near Johannesburg on Thursday night, and two were killed in what is believed to have been a robbery.
South Africa has roughly 20,000 people murdered each year out of a population of about 60 million. This gives the nation one of the highest per-capita murder rates anywhere. That’s more than the U.S., which has over five times the population.