Somalia concerned about xenophobic attacks in SA

The Somali government has called on South Africa to protect Somali nationals living in the country after a spate of attacks on foreigners.

Residents in a township near Joburg rioted against the Somali community last week, while tensions have also flared in Port Elizabeth in the east of the country.

The unrest in Diepsloot township came after a Somali shop owner allegedly shot dead two Zimbabweans last week. Somali shop owners in Port Elizabeth have also been targeted.

Police have arrested dozens of people and the government in Pretoria has condemned the attacks, which are reminiscent of the wave of xenophobic violence that left at least 60 foreigners dead in 2008.

“I appeal to the Government of the Republic of South Africa as a matter of urgency to intervene and contain this unnecessary and unfortunate violence against Somali business communities to preserve peace and stability,” Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said in an open letter to South African President Jacob Zuma today.

A taxi driver in Diepsloot admitted to City Press yesterday that he joined joined a mob of neighbours in looting a spaza shop, and made off with mobile airtime, snacks and soft drinks.

He said they looted the shop, owned by a man from Somalia, in retaliation for the fatal shooting of two locals by Bishar Isaack, another Somali store owner in the township.

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