Police say fatal stabbing at Muslim centre in Portugal was probably an 'isolated' act

A stabbing at an Ismaili Muslim centre in Lisbon on Tuesday that killed two women was most likely an "isolated act", according to authorities.

The attack took place at around 11 am local time when "a man armed with a sharp object" entered the centre and "attacked three people … [killing] two of them and injuring a third", said the president of the National Council of the Ismaili Muslim Community, Rahim Firozali.

“The motives of the assailant are not known," he added.

The suspect was taken to a hospital in the Portuguese capital after he was shot, and is "alive and in custody", the police said.

Portuguese authorities described the man as a refugee from Afghanistan who was receiving help from the Ismaili Community.

Millions of Afghans have fled violence and poverty in their country, often risking their lives to get to Europe.

AP Photo
People react outside an Ismaili Muslim centre in Lisbon, Portugal, Tuesday. - AP Photo

Interior Minister José Luis Carneiro said the man's wife died in a refugee camp in Greece, leaving him to care alone for three children. He added that local authorities had no information indicating he had been violent in the past.

“From what we know, he was a calm person who had received help from the Ismaili community in terms of knowledge of languages, food care, and care for younger children,” he said.

"I express my solidarity and condolences to the victims and the Ismaili community," Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa told the press, also suggesting an "isolated act" rather than a terrorist attack.

The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims belong to the Shia branch of Islam. The Ismaili Muslims are a culturally diverse community living in more than 25 countries around the world.

Portugal hasn't recorded any significant terror attacks in recent decades, and religious violence is virtually unheard of.

“The Ismaili community is shocked and saddened by this incident and is providing support to the families of the victims,” the Ismaili Community said in a statement.