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S. African Police Slay 7 Blacks, Charge They Were Guerrillas : Official Says Fire Fight Began With Thrown Grenade

March 03, 1986|Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Police killed seven blacks in a shoot-out today in a black township near Cape Town and said the men were guerrillas of the African National Congress who had been planning an attack.

Police Commissioner Gen. Johan Coetzee said in a statement that a fire fight broke out when police stopped a vehicle carrying seven blacks near the police station in Guguletu township. He said the blacks threw a grenade at the police.

One police officer was injured in the incident, he said.

An earlier account from police sources said the black men had thrown a grenade at a vehicle taking black policemen to work. The sources said other police had been lying in wait more than four hours at the site and opened fire on the guerrillas when they attacked.

Pursued Into Bushes

The sources said two policemen were slightly hurt and four guerrillas killed on the road. They said police chased three other guerrillas into nearby bushes and shot them there.

The sources said an assault rifle, other guns and several grenades were seized after the shooting.

Coetzee's statement said the seven dead blacks were members of the ANC, the main black nationalist movement fighting to end white minority control in South Africa.

Guguletu and two other black communities near Cape Town, Langa and Nyanga, have seen some of the most violent unrest in South Africa. Police have restricted patrols in the communities, and police officers and their vehicles have been frequent targets of gunfire and grenade attacks.

Outlawed Since 1960

The ANC has been outlawed in South Africa since 1960 when it launched a sabotage and terrorism campaign against the country's white government.

The movement has admitted responsibility for hundreds of attacks, including a car-bomb explosion that killed 19 civilians in 1983 and a bombing that killed five civilians near Durban last December.

Three other incidents of unrest were reported by police overnight. Vehicles were attacked with stones or firebombs in Soweto, the sprawling black township near Johannesburg; in Ashdown, near Pietermaritzburg, and in Claremont near the Indian Ocean port of Durban.

1,100 Killed in 18 Months

More than 1,100 blacks have been killed in the last 18 months of riots against apartheid, the system under which South Africa's 5 million whites deny the vote and other rights to the 24 million blacks.

Most of the victims have died in clashes with police or soldiers, and others have been killed in fights between rival black groups.

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