Five people wounded in knife attack at a mosque in Albanian capital

Photo: AP

An Albanian man with a knife attacked and wounded five people on Monday at a mosque in the capital Tirana, police said, as investigators tried to determine a motive for the attack, AP reported.

Rudolf Nikolli, 34, entered the mosque in downtown Tirana about 2:30 p.m. Police said they reacted immediately after the attack began and took him into custody. The Top Channel private television station, however, showed civilians blocking Nikolli before the police arrived.

A police investigation has been launched into the case.

The five wounded, all men ranging from 22 to 35, were taken to a hospital and police said their conditions weren’t life-threatening.

Nikolli’s father, Niko, told the Balkanweb online media that his son has been depressed since last year after he wasn’t allowed to leave for Italy and had also been infected with coronavirus. The alleged attacker’s father is Catholic and his mother is Muslim, and the father said he told his son to go to the mosque or a church, whatever he wanted.

His father said his son was converted to Islam by an imam in the northern town of Burrel, where he lived. But the father said his son was often prevented from entering mosques by worshippers because they told him he was a Christian.

Ahmed Kalaja, imam of the mosque, said the man attacked worshipers and staff at a time when the mosque was filled with believers during the fasting month of Ramadan. “We hope it was not a terrorist attack,” said Kalaja.

Albania’s 2.8 million people are predominantly Muslim with smaller Christian Catholic and Orthodox communities that have gotten along well with each other.

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