U.S. embassy warns of possible attack in Johannesburg

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday regretted as “unfortunate” the US embassy’s issuing of a warning of a possible weekend “terrorist” attack in the country without consulting his government.

The U.S. embassy on Wednesday issued an alert warning of a possible attack on Saturday against “large gatherings” in northern Johannesburg, which the South African government.

“The U.S. government has received information that terrorists may be planning to carry out an attack targeting large gatherings in the area around Sandton,” a wealthy suburb north of the historic city center, said the alert, published on the embassy’s website and widely shared on social networks.

“There is no further information regarding the timing, method, or target of this possible attack,” the alert adds, noting that embassy staff have been advised to avoid crowds in that part of the metropolitan area next weekend.

In response, the South African presidency noted the US’s “terror alert” was part of “the US government’s standard communication to its citizens”.

The presidency said it was the responsibility of the South African security forces to ensure security and safety for all people in the country.

It said law enforcement agencies were monitoring any threats to the citizens and the nation.

“Should the need arise, the South African government will be the first to inform the public about any imminent threat,” the presidency said in a statement.

A minister in the presidency was quoted by local media on Wednesday as saying that the “alarm has been going on but up to this point it is not backed up by any evidence”.

More than 1,000 South African troops have been fighting in neighboring Mozambique since July 2021, helping the army deal with armed jihadist groups that have been wreaking havoc for the past five years, killing 4,300 people and displacing a million.

On Monday, several Western embassies, including that of the United States, advised their citizens to limit their travel to Nigeria because of the increased threat of terrorist attacks.

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