Two stabbed to death at Lisbon’s Islamic centre

Published March 29, 2023
Police officers stand guard outside Ismaili Centre, after a deadly knife attack in Lisbon, Portugal, March 28, 2023. — Reuters
Police officers stand guard outside Ismaili Centre, after a deadly knife attack in Lisbon, Portugal, March 28, 2023. — Reuters
Emergency services members arrive at the Ismaili Islamic centre in Lisbon, after two people died following a knife attack that wounded several others, on March 28, 2023. — AFP
Emergency services members arrive at the Ismaili Islamic centre in Lisbon, after two people died following a knife attack that wounded several others, on March 28, 2023. — AFP

LISBON: An attacker armed with a knife killed two women on Tuesday at an Islamic centre in the Portuguese capital before being shot and wounded by police, authorities said.

The head of the Ismaili community centre in Lisbon, Nazim Ahmad, told the private TV channel SIC that both women were employees of the centre.

According to Portuguese media, the victims were the attacker’s English teacher at the centre and a fellow classmate.

Officers were called to the centre just before 11am where they encountered a man “armed with a large knife”, police said, adding that orders were given to the attacker to cease the attack, which he disobeyed, advancing towards the police, knife in hand.

“Faced with the serious and ongoing threat, the policemen used firearms against the person, hitting and neutralising him.”

Armed police wearing bullet-proof vests stood outside the entrance to the Ismaili Muslim centre located in a landscaped park in northern Lisbon.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said it was “premature to make any interpretation of this criminal act”. “Everything points to this being an isolated incident,” he said.

 Screengrab of Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s tweet about the incident. — Twitter/@AntonioCosta
Screengrab of Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s tweet about the incident. — Twitter/@AntonioCosta

While police initially said there were “several” wounded, the head of Portugal’s Ismaili community, Rahim Firozali, said one person was hurt in addition to the two women who were killed.

“The armed man attacked three people who were at the Ismaili centre, killing two of them and injuring a third,” he said.

Attacker in hospital

The attacker was taken to hospital where he was under police guard, officials said.

“We know that he was an Afghan, a refugee, who for some reason invaded the centre,” Nazim Ahmad said.

The president of the Afghan community association, Omed Taeri, said the attacker had arrived in Portugal “a year or so ago”, and was being aided by the Ismaeli centre.

“This person lost his wife in Greece and suffers from psychological problems due to this situation,” Taeri told CNN Portugal.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2023

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