UPDATE: US embassy warns of planned terrorist attacks in SA


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Editor&39;s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

JOHANNESBURG - The US government has received information that terrorist groups are planning to carry out near-term attacks against places where its citizens congregate in shopping areas in South Africa, its embassy said on Saturday.

"This information comes against the backdrop of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant&39;s public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadan," it said in a statement posted on its website.



It is the second such warning in under a year from the embassy, which issued a similar alert in September in a country that has a significant expatriate and tourist population but has seldom been associated with Islamist militancy.

The US embassy said up-market shopping areas and malls in the commercial hub of Johannesburg and Cape Town, widely regarded as South Africa&39;s tourism capital, were the main target areas in the suspected planned attacks.

Last month, a new message purporting to come from the spokesman of Islamic State called on followers to launch attacks on the West during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins in early June.

South African security agencies have replied by saying they are capable of ensuring the safety off all people residing in the country, its foreign affairs spokesman said on Saturday.

"The state security agency and other security agencies in this country are very much capable of keeping South Africa safe. The security of this country is as good as it always has been," International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

"The last time they did this, towards the end of last year, nothing came out of that advisory," he added.

South African police were not available to comment.

Following a similar warning in 2009, the U.S. closed its embassy and consulates in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town for several days.

On Saturday, the embassy said it would remain open.

"This will not affect operations at the U.S. embassy Pretoria or our Consulates in Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban," U.S. embassy spokeswoman Cynthia Harvey said.
"We are cooperating with local authorities, as we do in any investigation into terrorist threats around the world."