Tirana: An Albanian knife-wielding man attacked and wounded five worshippers at Dine Hoxha mosque in the Albania's capital Tirana. Suspect has been taken into custody.
The suspect, Rudolf Nikolli (34) entered the mosque in downtown Tirana about 2:30 pm and attacked worshipers, all men ranging from 22 to 35. However, police immediately reached the spot after getting information and tried to determine the motive for the attack.
As the Holy month of Ramadhan is being observed worldwide, the mosque was filled with believers.
The injured were taken to a hospital and their conditions weren't life-threatening, said police.
Albania is a country where more than half of the population is Muslim and is generally regarded as a bastion of religious tolerance, where communities share each other's feast days and interfaith marriages are common there.
The incident is believed to be the first such incident inside a Holy place in the country.
A police investigation has been launched into the tragic incident.
The mosque's Imam Ahmet Kalaja stated, "I hope that it is not a terrorist act but the act of mentally retard person".
The suspect’s father gave a statement regarding the incident, saying his son has been depressed since last year after he wasn't allowed to leave for Italy and had also contracted novel coronavirus.
Nikolli’s father is Catholic while his mother is Muslim, and he has been instructed to go to the mosque or a church, whatever he wanted.
The accused was converted to Islam by an imam in the northern town of Burrel, where he lived but his father stressed that his son was often prevented from entering mosques by worshippers because they told him he was a Christian.
Moreover, religion in Albania was banned for 23 years under country's former communist rulers, who declared Albania the world's first atheist state in 1967. However, widespread religious practice returned to there in the 1990s.
Religious authorities of all faiths were killed, tortured, imprisoned or sent to labour camps.