JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Two suspected looters in South Africa were fatally shot bringing to six the number of people killed in more than a week of attacks on shops owned by African immigrants in the Johannesburg area, police said Monday.
The slain men were part of a group that allegedly went to loot a Somali-owned shop in Langlaagte, south of Johannesburg city, on Sunday night, the South African Press Association quoted police Lt. Gen. Solomon Makgale as saying.
It was not immediately clear who fired the shots that killed the men.
In a separate incident, police said a shop in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township was set on fire early Monday. Officers arrived at the scene and the mob fled empty-handed, according to police.
The looting and related violence have disrupted life in the past week in Soweto township and other areas around Johannesburg. Among those killed was a baby who was trampled to death when a crowd stampeded outside a ransacked shop.
Calm was restored in Soweto after many of the foreign shop owners were escorted out the Johannesburg township by police, and high-level politicians and government officials, including Winnie Mandela, pleaded for peace in the township.
Ethiopian shop-owner Mohamed Hamid only restocked the shelves of his small Soweto shop once days of public violence and looting had quieted.
“It was wrong, someone made a mistake,” said Hamid, talking about the incident that sparked the looting — the shooting of a 14-year-old boy by a Somali shop owner.
Hamid, who came to South Africa in 2003, said he will keep his shop open, although another shop was attacked just a few kilometers (miles) away.
“I’m scared, South Africa is a risk because so many people have guns,” said Hamid. Police found eleven illegal guns among foreign shop owners and local looters. Hamid says that when South Africans are dissatisfied with high unemployment and poor government services, foreigners are an easy target.
This is not the first time violence has erupted against foreign Africans. In 2008, about 60 people died when crowds of South Africans targeted foreigners from other African countries.
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