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Zulu-ANC Warfare Spreads to Soweto; 6 More Killed

August 16, 1990|From Times Wire Services

SOWETO, South Africa — Scores of armed men attacked terrified passengers at a train station today, killing four people. Two more murders put the death toll at 149 from five days of factional fighting, police said.

The country's worst urban violence in recent years spread to the giant Soweto township just outside Johannesburg when Zulu migrant workers battled supporters of Nelson Mandela's African National Congress with knives.

Police said 99 people were injured today. One of the six dead had been burned alive.

President Frederik W. de Klerk and two ministers met an ANC team led by Mandela today in Pretoria to try to halt the violence.

"The discussions covered various aspects of the present state of unrest and violence in certain areas, as well as steps to curb it," a brief statement said.

It said further talks will be held on action to stop the fighting between leftist ANC followers, mostly members of Mandela's Xhosa tribe, and Zulus loyal to the traditionalist Inkatha movement of chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The spear-and-gun battles sent a shock wave of fear through black residential areas around Johannesburg, the country's industrial capital.

A meeting between Mandela and De Klerk, to discuss the endemic Inkatha-ANC feuding in the east coast province of Natal, where 4,000 people have died in four years, had been planned since early this month.

De Klerk's office would not say whether today's meeting was part of scheduled talks or was called urgently to tackle the sudden spread of the rivalry out of Natal.

Schools in Soweto, the country's largest township, emptied today, shops closed early, many bus services halted and some residents fled their homes.

Youths built burning barricades in the streets. Police said their officers had been attacked by gunfire and gasoline bombs.

Police trying to avert confrontations concentrated on dispersing ANC supporters with repeated volleys of tear gas.

Zulus were fenced in behind police razor wire but were allowed to keep their spears and knives, witnesses said.

"I haven't seen (police) fire a single (tear gas) shot at Inkatha," said one witness.

Today's violence started when hundreds of Zulus burst into the Inhlazane train station, stabbing and slashing at passengers with long panga knives and throwing people off trains. Four people were killed and 50 were wounded.

Hundreds of ANC supporters, armed with weapons ranging from golf clubs to spears, swarmed into the station in retaliation.

One man was killed in similar clashes at a nearby station and another was killed elsewhere.

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