TIRANA, Albania – Police say five people stabbed five people to death in a mosque in the capital on Monday as investigators tried to determine the motive for the attack.
Rudolf Nicole, 34, at 2 p.m. Around 30 a.m., a Dine Khoja mosque entered the center of Tirana, according to a police statement. Police said they responded immediately after the attack and arrested him. Top Channel, a private television station, however, showed civilians blocking Nicole before police arrived.
An investigation was launched and authorities did not immediately disclose why the man carried out the attack.
The five injured, all between the ages of 22 and 35, were taken to hospital, and police said their condition was not life-threatening.
Nicole’s father, Niko, told Balkanweb online that his son had been depressed since last year because he had not been allowed to travel to Italy. Rudolf was also infected with the coronavirus.
“Even though I am a Catholic, I told him well (to go to the mosque) because my wife is a Muslim. “If you do not want to go to church, go to the mosque like ordinary people do,” I tell him, “he said, adding that believers often forbid his son from entering mosques because they said he was a Christian.”
Mosque imam Ahmed Kalaja says the gunman attacked a crowd of worshipers as the mosque was filled with worshipers during the month of Ramadan.
“We hope it was not terrorism,” Kalaja said, adding that the five wounded worshipers were praying when Nicole attacked them.
Albania’s 2.8 million people are predominantly Muslim, with smaller Christian Catholic orthodox communities that are well-connected.
Police say Nicole is from the northern city of Burel, and her religious background is still unknown. His father later said that his son had converted to Islam from the city’s imam.