July 11 (UPI) — A mass shooting at a tavern in Johannesburg, South Africa, early Sunday left 15 people dead while another four people were killed in another tavern near the city of Pietermaritzburg, police said.
A group of men armed with rifles and 9mm pistols entered Mdlalose’s tavern in Soweto, a neighborhood of Johannesburg, just after midnight Sunday and “started shooting randomly” at patrons sitting inside, according to a news release from the South African Police Service.
Faith Mazibuko, a member of the executive council in the Gauteng Provincial Government, said in a video posted to Twitter that 13 people were confirmed dead at the scene and another two people were declared dead at a local hospital.
Police said a total of 23 people were shot, but the conditions of the remaining eight people who were injured were not immediately known.
“Unfortunately, there has been a massacre of people sitting in Mdlalose’s tavern enjoying themselves, unaware of the death that lurks in the dark,” Mazibuko said.
Police are still searching for unknown gunmen and are asking for information that could lead to their arrests, according to the news release.
Gauteng premier David Makhura told local news outlet Herald Live that the tavern was operating during legal operating hours and that all the patrons were above the age of 18, the legal drinking age.
“The people were there doing what people do over the weekend, which is enjoying themselves,” Makhura said. “They say there was a white quantum (taxi) that arrived at the scene fully packed with people who used automatic firearms to shoot at innocent people.”
Meanwhile, two gunmen entered the Samkelisiwe Tavern in Sweetwaters, near the city of Pietermaritzburg in the KwaZulu-Natal province, around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and opened fire on patrons, police said in a statement.
At least four people are dead after a total of 12 people were shot in that incident, with the victims ranging between the ages of 30 and 45, police said.
“The team will be working around the clock to track down and bring to book those responsible for this shooting,” Lt. Gen. Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi of the South African Police Service said in the statement.