Sat, May 24, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Attacks against immigrants spread to Cape Town

AGENCIES , CAPE TOWN AND MAPUTO

Anti-immigrant violence has spread to South Africa's second largest city, Cape Town, where mobs attacked Somalis and Zimbabweans and looted their homes and shops, police said yesterday.

Hundreds of African migrants were evacuated overnight from a squatter camp near Cape Town, the hub of South Africa’s prized tourism industry. Somali-owned shops were also looted in Knysna, a resort town on the southwestern coast.

“We don’t know the exact number of shops looted and burnt, but it’s a lot,” said Billy Jones, senior superintendent with the Western Cape provincial police.

He added that one Somali died overnight, but it was unclear whether the death was linked to the attacks.

At least 42 people have been killed and more than 25,000 driven from their homes in 12 days of attacks by mobs that accuse African migrants of taking jobs and fueling crime. More than 500 people have been arrested.

The unrest began in Johannesburg area townships but has spread to other provinces. Authorities said a Malawian man was shot in Durban overnight and three other foreigners were stabbed in a separate attack in North West Province.

Police expect more attacks over the weekend and said they would seek additional assistance from the military if necessary.

Troops have joined police in operations in Johannesburg’s seething shantytowns. South African President Thabo Mbeki approved army intervention to quell unrest that has threatened to destabilize Africa’s largest economy.

Thousands of African migrants have chosen to return home.

Mozambican Deputy Interior Minister Jose Mandra said yesterday at least 23 Mozambican nationals had been killed in the violence. Immigration authorities say that more than 10,000 Mozambicans have returned home from South Africa in recent days.

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