Gunmen shot dead 15 people and wounded nine others at a tavern in the South African town of Saweta, police said.

Armed with rifles and handguns, gunmen opened fire on people sitting in an Orlando East tavern early Sunday morning.

Three people were seriously injured and are in hospital, along with another victim with less serious injuries.

Police said the group entered the bar before “randomly shooting patrons”.

Unidentified gunmen fled the scene and are on the run, police said, adding that it was not yet clear how many of them were involved in the attack.

The number of rounds of ammunition found at the scene indicated that those inside the tavern were being shot at by a group of people, said Gauteng Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mavela.

He added: “You can see that a large caliber firearm was used and it was firing indiscriminately. You can see that every one of these people was trying their best to get out of the inn.’

South Africa is one of the most violent countries in the world, killing 20,000 people every year, one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the world.

Photo: AP

Soweto, near Johannesburg, is the largest black town in the country.

They were the product of a white minority rule that ended in 1994, but whose legacy of widespread poverty and youth unemployment lives on nearly three decades later.

Local media reported that another shooting at a pub in Pietermaritzburg, about 500 km southeast of Soweto, left four people dead overnight.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

A police spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

The Soweto bar shooting happened two weeks later 21 teenagers were found dead in a tavern in the city of East London.

Authorities have not yet released the cause of those deaths, but officials said the teenagers were not shot or crushed in the stampede.

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