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Soldiers Sought in S. African Blasts

White police officers are also suspected in the nation's worst bombing spree since apartheid.

November 01, 2002|From Reuters

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — South Africa is hunting for white right-wing soldiers and police after the most serious bombing spree since racist apartheid rule ended in 1994, the defense minister said Thursday.

Nine bombs exploded Wednesday in the sprawling black township of Soweto near Johannesburg, killing a woman and raising fears that white extremists are at work. A 10th explosion near Pretoria wounded two others.

Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said a minority of right-wing white Afrikaners in the armed forces and police could be part of a plot to plunge South Africa into a race war.

"They are a racially oriented group. They want to achieve a race war," Lekota said.

"It certainly does not represent the majority of Afrikaners ... ," he added, "but a residue within the South African National Defense Force and the South African Police Service."

Members of President Thabo Mbeki's black-led government and opposition figures said the bombers aimed to upset a fragile racial balance and bring back the violent past.

"It's people who are enemies of this country, who don't like the level of tranquillity, the peace that we have achieved together, black and white, after a difficult history," Justice Minister Penuell Maduna said on SABC state radio.

"There is indeed an organization, with cars and transport and money."

Nobody has been arrested or claimed responsibility for the bombings, the worst since a blitz by white right-wingers ahead of all-race elections in 1994 that swept black anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela to power.

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