Saturday, June 4, 2016 7:50 pm
The United States warned its citizens on Saturday of possible attacks by Islamist militants on U.S. facilities or shopping malls in South Africa during the upcoming month of Ramadan, but the South African government said the country was safe and points at a similar warning in the past which turned a hoax.
It was the second such warning in under a year from the embassy, which issued a similar alert in September in a country that has a significant expatriate and tourist population but has seldom been associated with Islamist militancy.
The U.S. embassy said up-market shopping areas and malls in the commercial hub of Johannesburg and Cape Town, widely regarded as South Africa’s tourism capital, were the main target areas in the suspected planned attacks.
“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,” it said in a statement posted on its website. 1.usa.gov/1UkdY8R
Last month, a new message purporting to come from the spokesman of Islamic State called on followers to launch attacks on the West during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins in early June.
South Africa’s foreign affairs department said the country’s security agencies were capable of ensuring the safety of its residents, noting that no incident or attack had taken place after the previous warning by the U.S. embassy last year.
“The state security agency and other security agencies in this country are very much capable of keeping South Africa safe and everybody in this country, including Americans,” foreign affair’s ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said.
“The last time they did this, towards the end of last year, nothing came out of that advisory,” he added.
South African police were not available to comment.
The United States embassy similarly issued in May 2014, a travel advisory on Nigeria’s commercial city of Lagos, saying that hotels were going to be targets of terrorist attacks. But the advisory turned out to be not well-founded on any serious intelligence.