Albanian man with knife wounds 5 at mosque in Tirana

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A policeman investigates the area outside Dine Hoxha mosque after a knife attack in Tirana, Albania, Monday, April 19, 2021. Monday, April 19, 2021. Police say an Albanian man with a knife has attacked five people at a mosque in the capital of Tirana. 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. (AP Photo)

TIRANA – An Albanian man with a knife attacked and wounded five people Monday at a mosque in the capital, police said, as investigators tried to determine a motive for the attack.

Rudolf Nikolli, 34, entered the Dine Hoxha mosque in downtown Tirana about 2:30 p.m., a police statement said. Police said they reacted immediately after the attack began and took him into custody. The Top Channel private television station, however, showed civilians blocking Nikolli before the police arrived.

A police investigation has been launched into the case.

The five wounded, all men ranging from 22 to 35, were taken to a hospital and police said their conditions weren't life-threatening.

Nikolli's father, Niko, told the Balkanweb online media that his son has been depressed since last year after he wasn't allowed to leave for Italy and had also been infected with coronavirus. The alleged attacker's father is Catholic and his mother is Muslim, and the father said he told his son to go to the mosque or a church, whatever he wanted.

His father said his son was converted to Islam by an imam in the northern town of Burrel, where he lived. But the father said his son was often prevented from entering mosques by worshippers because they told him he was a Christian.

Ahmed Kalaja, imam of the mosque, said the 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.