Two killed in knife attack at Lisbon Ismaili centre

At least two people were killed and one wounded in a knife attack at the Ismaili Centre in Lisbon on Tuesday, Portuguese police and a Muslim community leader said.

Officers shot the attacker after he refused to lay down his weapon and approached them with a large knife. He was arrested and taken to hospital. Police said the attack occurred just before 11 a.m. (1100 GMT).

Ismailis are a minority within Shia Islam whose members have been attacked by extremist groups in many countries.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa told reporters everything indicated that it was an isolated act, and it was premature to make any interpretation about the crime.

The two victims were Portuguese nationals who worked at the centre, SIC television network cited Nazim Ahmed, leader of the Ismaili community in Portugal, as saying. He also said the attacker was an Afghan refugee.

Police did not immediately confirm the nationalities, but Observador newspaper said the father of three had frequently visited the centre to study Portuguese and collect food donations. Local media also said the women worked at the centre's refugee support programme.

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Ismaili spiritual leader Prince Karim Aga Khan, who claims to be a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed, opened the centre in Lisbon in 1998, complete with prayer halls, classrooms, meeting rooms and exhibition spaces.

In 2015, he established the global headquarters of Ismailism in Lisbon under an agreement with the Portuguese government, and in 2018, he made the Henrique Mendonca Palace, also in Lisbon, as the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat.

The Aga Khan Foundation did not respond when called for a comment.

A number of people looking distressed were standing outside the centre in Lisbon amid a heavy armed police presence and were later taken into the building. Police officers wearing white Hazmat suits were seen entering the building.

The Ismaili community in Portugal is one of the largest in continental Europe, numbering thousands, including many who fled Mozambique during its civil war.

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