At least two people have been stabbed to death outside the Ismaili Center in Lisbon on Tuesday in what authorities are investigating as a possible terror attack.
Police were alerted to the scene shortly before 11 a.m. local time after reports of a male assailant attacking members of the public with a large knife at the Islamic place of worship located on Avenida Lusíada in the Portuguese capital.
Authorities approached the man and gave orders to drop the weapon which were disobeyed. The armed attacker was shot in the leg by police after making advances towards them. He was rushed to hospital where he was treated for his injuries, and has been detained in police custody.
CNN Portugal reported the attacker as being of Afghan origin, though no formal identification has yet been made.
“The attack resulted in several injuries and, so far, two fatalities,” a police statement read. Two other victims are understood to have been hospitalized with serious injuries.
“The Public Security Police appeals to the serenity and tranquility of all our fellow citizens, having mobilized the necessary staff for the implementation of adequate and urgent security measures,” the police statement added.
A heavy police presence has secured the perimeter of the crime scene as security services and national police conduct their investigation.
Prime Minister António Costa told reporters on Tuesday that “everything indicates this was an isolated act, but we are not going to get ahead of ourselves.”
The Ismaili community belongs to the Shia branch of Muslims, often considered to be a persecuted minority within the wider Islam religion. Ismaili groups have frequently been attacked by Sunni extremists in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Large numbers of Ismaili Muslims fled Afghanistan when the Taliban first came to power in the late 1990s, with reports of mass killings by the extremist group of those who remained in the country.