Police: Albanian man with knife wounds 5 at mosque in Tirana

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — An Albanian man with a knife attacked five people Monday at a mosque in the capital of Tirana, according to police.

A police statement said Rudolf Nikolli, 34, entered the Dine Hoxha mosque in downtown Tirana about 2:30 p.m. and wounded five people with a knife. Police said they reacted immediately and took him into custody.

The Top Channel private television station, however, showed civilians blocking Nikolli before the police arrived.

The five wounded, all men aged from 22 to 35, were taken to a hospital and police said they are not in life-threatening situations.

Police have not disclosed any motive for the attack. They and prosecutors are investigating the case.

Ahmed Kalaja, imam of the mosque, said the armed 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, adding that the five wounded believers were praying when Nikolli attacked them. He said others could also have been wounded, it was not yet clear.

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

Police said Nikolli was from the northern town of Burrel and his religious background was not yet clear.