The US government warned Wednesday of a possible “terrorist” attack during the weekend in the financial hub of South Africa’s largest city Johannesburg.
It identified the potential target as Sandton, which is commonly referred to as the richest square mile on the African continent — an amalgamation of high-end shops and lofty business office towers and banks.
“The U.S. government has received information that terrorists may be planning to conduct an attack targeting large gatherings of people at an unspecified location in the greater Sandton area of Johannesburg,” the US embassy said on its website.
The attack could occur there on Saturday, it said.
But Pretoria appeared to underplay the alert calling it “part of the US government’s standard communication to its citizens.”
“It is the responsibility of the South African security forces to ensure that all people within our country feel safe,” a government statement said.
“Threats are assessed continuously and are acted upon to ensure the safety of all. Should the need arise; the South African government will be the first to inform the public about any imminent threat,” it said.
“We are working hard at keeping our nation and her people safe.”
Several alerts have been issued about possible imminent terrorist attacks on South Africa in recent years, but none have materialized.
South African is helping neighboring Mozambique fight an Islamist insurgency and has deployed more than 1,000 troops there since July last year.
The embassy said it had no further information on the “timing, method, or target of the potential attack,” but advised staff to “avoid crowds of people and other large public gatherings in the greater Sandton area during the weekend of 29 to 30 October 2022.
“We don’t have anything further to add than what is already in the alert,” embassy spokesman David Feldmann told AFP.
Johannesburg’s annual gay pride extravaganza is scheduled to take place in the Sandton area on Saturday, the first in-person event after a two-year hiatus caused by the Covid pandemic restrictions.
After a 2016 alert issued by the US and Britain, the South African government reacted angrily to “attempts to generate perceptions of government ineptitude, alarmist impressions and public hysteria on the basis of a questionable single source.”
Source: With Agencies