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Portugal: 2 dead in stabbing at Lisbon Muslim center

March 28, 2023

A man stabbed two women to death and left several wounded at an Ismaili Muslim center in the Portuguese capital, the prime minister said.

Police officers stand at the entrance of an Ismaili Muslim center in Lisbon, Portugal, Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Police arrived at the Muslim center where they encountered a suspect 'armed with a large knife'Image: Armando Franca/AP Photo/picture alliance

A man stabbed two women to death at Lisbon's Ismaili Muslim center in a "criminal act," Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Tuesday.

"The attack left several people wounded and, for the moment, two dead," said the police.

The two women who died were employees of the center aged 40 and 20, according to Interior Minister Jose Luis Carneiro.

The assailant was an Afghan whose wife died "in difficult circumstances" at a refugee camp in Greece before them moving to Portugal.

He has three children and seemed to live "a fairly quiet life" in the country, Carneiro said.

Police officials in Portugal interviewing a woman at the Ismaili center in Lisbon
Police officials used firearms against the suspect as they were facing a 'serious threat'Image: Leonardo Negrão/GlobalImagens/IMAGO

What we know about the attack

Police said they arrived at the scene just before 11 a.m. local time (1000 GMT) after being warned that a knife attack was underway.

Police said in a statement that they shot the attacker.

"Faced with the serious and ongoing threat, the policemen used firearms against the person, hitting and neutralizing the aggressor," police said.

The police took the suspect under custody, and he was later carried to a hospital in Lisbon. 

Costa stated that it was "an isolated incident." He further said that it was "premature to make any interpretation of this criminal act."

According to Portuguese media reports, the attacker was a regular visitor of the center, where he picked up food donations and studied Portuguese.

Members of the local Afghan community said that the suspect was suffering from psychological problems after the death of his wife.

Who are the Ismailis?

The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims belong to the Shia branch of Islam, as stated on their website.

The "culturally diverse community" is spread across the globe, with members living in more than 25 countries, it says. The Ismailis have a global population of around 12 to 15 million.

In Portugal, there are around 7,000 Ismaili Muslims. The country did not have any major terror attacks in recent decades, with religious violence almost being non-existent.

The last recorded attack was in July 1983, when five Armenian extremists attacked the Turkish embassy in Lisbon. Seven people died in the suicide attack, including all the extremists.

aa/fb  (afp,ap, Reuters, dp)