Reward offered after Cape Town bombing

Click to follow
The Independent Online

South Africa's top security official said Monday investigators have leads in the weekend bombing of a crowded restaurant and that the bombers also planned to disrupt millennium ce religion conference.

South Africa's top security official said Monday investigators have leads in the weekend bombing of a crowded restaurant and that the bombers also planned to disrupt millennium ce religion conference.

President Thabo Mbeki promised in a statement that "the perpetrators of this heinous act ... are going to be pursued, captured and punished to the full extent of the law."

Seven of the 43 people who were injured in Sunday's bombing remained in the hospital, including victims who lost limbs in the blast. The bombing was similar to some others in the Cape Town area, most notably the unsolved August 1998 bombing of a Planet Hollywood restaurant at Cape Town's waterfront which killed two people and injured 26.

Pipe bombs were used in both attacks against high-profile tourist targets. Most of the other dozens of targets have been police stations, homes and businesses.

Speaking from the shattered St. Elmo's pizza restaurant in the beach town of Camps Bay, Safety and Security Minister Steve Tshwete said the government was considering creating an antiterrorism law to halt the attacks that have plagued the Cape Town area for more than a year. He did not divulge details.

Sunday's attack against a family restaurant - in which children were among the victims - has been followed by a clamor for a no-holds-barred assault against terrorists.

"We cannot fight terrorism by protecting them with the constitution," said Peter Marais, acting premier of Western Cape province, of which Cape Town is the capital. Marais, a member of the opposition New National Party, said he had problems with clauses including those that give a suspect the right to remain silent and that stipulate a suspect must be charged within 48 hours or released.

Tshwete told reporters authorities have "certain definite clues" about who was behind the bombing in Camps Bay, located just south of Cape Town.

"The group's agenda is to undermine the government throughout the country," he said.

Tshwete said the group had timed the attack for when Cape Town was absorbing foreign and local visitors for millennium celebrations and for this week's World Parliament of Religions conference, which is expecting 6,000 delegates.

The group wants to disrupt those events, Tshwete said without elaborating.

"Our guys are on their trail right now," he said, adding that the bombers belonged to a group whose "name is well known around Cape Town."

He declined to name the group.

Police hold a Muslim fundamentalist vigilante group, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs, or PAGAD, responsible for most terror attacks in Cape Town. Last month, police hailed the arrests of three PAGAD members as a breakthrough in their war against terrorism. Trial begins in February for the three members, who are being held without bail, on 124 terror-related charges.

PAGAD on Monday denied the group was behind Sunday's attack and threatened to sue officials who publicly say the group is suspected in the bombing.

Local officials offered a 1.25 million rand (dlrs 205,000) reward for information leading to the capture of the bombers.

Comments