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US Embassy warns Sandton may be terror target


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One of South Africa’s richest suburbs may be the target of a terrorist attack, according to an alert posted on the US Embassy’s website.

“The US government has received information that terrorists may be planning to conduct an attack targeting large gatherings of people at an unspecified location in the greater Sandton area” in Johannesburg this weekend, the embassy said in the statement. “There is no further information regarding the timing, method, or target of the potential attack.”

The embassy has advised its staff to avoid crowds of people and other large public gatherings in the area over the coming weekend. While South Africa has high levels of crime, Johannesburg — the nation’s biggest city and financial hub — hasn’t experienced a mass attack in decades.

Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mavela Masondo referred queries to police ministry spokeswoman Lirandzu Themba, who didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment sent by text message.

Islamic State has previously threatened to carry out attacks on South Africa for its involvement in a counter-insurgency operation in northeastern Mozambique, where the Islamist militants have been carrying out attacks since 2017. The nation is among members of the Southern African Development Community, a 16-member economic bloc, that deployed forces last year to help the Mozambican government quell the violence.

The alert didn’t give information on groups that may be targeting the area.

Many of the biggest companies in South Africa, including financial services group FirstRand, chemicals company Sasol, insurer Discovery, Bank of America Corp, Citigroup, law firms and international auditing firms such as EY have their headquarters in Sandton.

The area is also home to a number of malls and other retail spaces, which attracts crowds of tourists and locals on weekends.

The city’s LGBTQ community is planning its annual parade in the area on Saturday, according to Johannesburg Pride’s Facebook page.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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