Alert travel to South Africa?
This week began with the warning by the United States and the United Kingdom of a high threat of attacks against foreigners in shopping malls in South Africa, two days after a similar advisory was issued by the United States embassy in Pretoria.
The warning identified supermarkets, shopping areas and malls in the commercial hub of Johannesburg and Cape Town, widely regarded as South Africas tourism capital, as the main target areas in the suspected planned attacks.
Africas most industrialised country has a significant expatriate and tourist population but has seldom been associated with Islamist militancy.
South Africas government however has said that the country was safe following the US warning.
Nevertheless, an official for the British embassy in South Africa said their government had revised their travel alert to South Africa following the US warning at the weekend.
Clarifying earlier reports that the UK had issued a new alert, the embassy’s Isabel Potgieter told News24 that their government issued an alert on May 20 but had revised it at the weekend following the US alert.
Potgieter said the UK government was not advising its citizens against travel to South Africa.
The US issued a warning on Saturday after it had “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 UK government’s May 20 statement said: “There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners such as shopping areas in Johannesburg and Cape Town.”
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attacks globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria, Britain’s foreign office said.
State Security Minister David Mahlobo earlier on Monday downplayed the US government’s terror alert, giving assurances that his department was doing all it could to keep South Africa safe against attacks.
He reassured citizens Monday they are in “no immediate danger” following the U.S. warning.
“We remain a strong and stable democratic country and there is no immediate danger posed by the alert,” he said in a statement emailed to CNN.
The statement said that South African security forces were working with U.S. officials over their concerns and would continue to focus on terrorist threats to ensure the publics safety.
There was “no need to panic,” it said.
The U.S. Embassy in South Africa issued Saturday that it had received information that terror groups were planning to carry out “near-term” attacks in the country. The attacks would target “places where U.S. citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town,” the statement said. It said the warning came against the backdrop of a call from ISIS to its supporters to “carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadan.”
The South African government’s statement described the terror alert a “standard precautionary communication” from the United States to its citizens.
The British Foreign Office in its updated guidance Saturday for citizens traveling or based in South Africa, warned that “attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners such as shopping areas in Johannesburg and Cape Town.” It advised that British citizens “should be vigilant at this time.”
It is hoped that no terrorist attack again hits the continent.
Author: Tubonemi – Nigeria