South African looters target foreign-owned shops, 5 five killed
At least five people in South Africa have died in attacks on immigrant-owned shops and hundreds of people have fled their homes since last week, authorities said yesterday as they struggled to stem one of the worst outbreaks of violence in years against foreigners, many of them from other African countries.
Most of the recent unrest occurred in and around the coastal city of Durban, where police said two foreigners and three South Africans were killed. The dead included a 14-year-old boy who was allegedly shot during looting Monday night and died at a hospital, police Colonel Jay Naicker said. Some 34 people have been arrested for possession of unlicensed firearms and other crimes in the last two days, he said.
"Police are deployed and in high alert in most of the areas where there are foreign nationals," Naicker said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
Despite the increased police presence, authorities are hard-pressed to stop unrest that recalls similar violence in South Africa in 2008 in which about 60 people died. In January this year, four people died during a week of looting of foreign-owned shops and other violence in Soweto and other areas of Johannesburg.
Some South Africans have accused immigrants of taking jobs and opportunities away from them. The latest violence followed reported comments by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, an influential figure among the Zulu ethnic group, that foreigners should "pack their bags" and leave. The king has since appealed for an end to the unrest.