SAfrica struggles to quell anti-immigrant violence

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JOHANNESBURG: The South African government on Thursday called for calm after a wave of xenophobic violence in which dozens of shops and houses owned by immigrants have been torched and looted. Many locals have alleged that the targets were brothels and drug dens being run by migrants from elsewhere in Africa, including Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The violence has prompted Nigeria to summon South Africa’s top envoy to Abuja to raise their concerns. Nigeria’s junior foreign minister Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim said the high commissioner would be “informed of (the) government’s concerns on the situation” and asked to ensure action was taken. “The Federal Government of Nigeria strongly urges the South African Government to take all necessary measures to protect the lives and property of foreigners living and working in South Africa,” she said in a statement. Attacks against foreigners and foreign-run businesses have erupted regularly in recent years in South Africa, fuelled by the country’s high unemployment and poverty levels. In the last week, more than 20 shops have been targeted in Atteridgeville, outside Pretoria, while residents in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg, attacked at least 12 houses. A march protesting against migrants is due to be held in Pretoria on Friday, raising fears of violence in the city center.

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