US issues terror warning for citizens in South Africa

Cape Town, June 5 (IANS) The US Diplomatic Mission to South Africa on Saturday issued a terror warning to US citizens in South Africa.

The US government has received information that terrorist groups are planning to carry out near-term attacks against places where US citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town, the mission said.

“This information comes against the backdrop of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadan,” the mission said without giving further details, Xinhua reported.

The South African authorities have not responded to the warning. A call to the state security agency went unanswered.

The US issued a similar alert in September last year, saying it had received information that extremists may be targeting US interests in the country.

The warning put South Africa on alert, but Security Minister David Mahlobo said then that there was no need to panic as its information from the ground was that there was no imminent danger or threat being posed by any terrorist group to South Africa.

Fears for terror attacks on Western targets in South Africa have existed for some time. There have been reports that “White Widow” Samantha Lewthwaite was seen spying on Western embassies in South Africa before she allegedly masterminded the West Gate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013.

The 31-year-old Briton is known to have been in South Africa between 2008 and 2011, travelling under the assumed name Natalie Faye Webb on a fraudulently obtained South African passport.

In January and February 2013, she was allegedly caught on CCTV cameras watching embassies in the Arcadia area of Pretoria, including the British High Commission.

Arcadia is home to the Union Buildings and South African president’s official residence, in addition to the US embassy and many other foreign embassies.

–IANS

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