Pic Courtesy – The Independent
Zurich, Dec 20 – A man has stormed into a Zurich mosque and opened fire on people praying, injuring three, police say.
Two of the three men — aged 30, 35 and 56 years — were seriously injured shortly after 5:30pm (local time), Zurich city police said.
The suspect, a man around the age of 30 years old according to witness accounts, then fled the mosque, police said.
Officers said a body was found nearby, but could not comment on any link to the shootings while investigations were ongoing.
Police said they had collected evidence inside the building and could not further comment on the motive or the suspect’s background.
He was wearing dark clothing and a dark wool cap, they said.
Police had sealed off the block near the mosque. About 20 police officers were present and an ambulance had driven away, a witness said.
The centre is registered as an association enabling Muslims to practise their religion, particularly through instruction on Islamic beliefs and teachings, as well as providing for the preservation of Islamic cultural values and scientific seminars, according to Swiss business data website Moneyhouse.
People at the scene told the Reuters news agency the Islamic centre on Zurich’s Eisgasse was used as a mosque, often by Somalis.
“We never once had a problem,” said Abukar Abshirow, a Somali who said he was a regular worshipper at the centre that attracted Muslims from around the world.
“We never had anyone come and say: ‘Why are you here’. We never had that.”
Across Switzerland, two thirds of its 8.3 million residents identify as Christian, but in recent years the country’s Muslim population has risen to 5 per cent.
In 2009, a nationwide vote backed a constitutional ban on new minarets.
The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland said the centre was not a member and it did not have any direct knowledge of the incident.
Another umbrella group, the Swiss Islamic Central Council, was not immediately available for comment.