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South African police said the motive of the attack at a mosque on the Old Main Road in Ottawa the KwaZulu-Natal province was unknown and they were investigating.

One of the wounded - Imam later died. "The other two are in critical condition", said Balram, adding that the suspects fled in a white auto.

Emergency rescue services said the imam's throat had been slit and he later died, while the two other men had been stabbed.

'They further set certain rooms alight and fled in their getaway vehicle, ' police spokeswoman Nqobile Gwala said in a statement.

"As per reports from scene‚ three males entered the mosque shouting‚ screaming‚ [and] just started stabbing people‚ threw some sort of device or petrol bomb into the mosque and ran away‚" he said. "We do no know who's behind the attack".

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"This kind of attack on three innocent people is totally unjustified".

"The attackers managed to get out of the mosque". "The other two are in critical condition", said Prem Balram, a spokesperson for Reaction Unit SA, which was first on the scene. "I do not think we should jump to conclusions that this attack is motivated by sectarianism", said Haseen.

"While attending to the fire, a third victim, who is believed to have fallen from the second floor, was found with his throat slit", Balram told The Citizen, while still at the scene of the attack yesterday afternoon.

"The South African Muslim community has always lived harmoniously with all other religions and ethnic groups".

South Africa has a history of relative religious tolerance. "It was a sudden attack and at this point we don't have enough information".