White extremists suspected of South African bridge bombing

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The Independent Online

A powerful explosion damaged a bridge leading to a South African coastal resort yesterday, raising more fears in a country already troubled by a spate of attacks blamed on white right-wing extremists.

A powerful explosion damaged a bridge leading to a South African coastal resort yesterday, raising more fears in a country already troubled by a spate of attacks blamed on white right-wing extremists.

Selby Bokada, a police spokesman, said officers did not yet know whether the blast at Mtamvunariver bridge near Port Edward in KwaZulu Natal province was aimed at tourists visiting the Wild Coast Casino resort, which is a mile away.

No one was hurt in the explosion, which happened at around 1am. Residents reported hearing two blasts though police could not confirm this. The bridge did not collapse but its supporting pylons were badly damaged, and it has been closed indefinitely by police.

A spokeswoman for the Sun International group, which owns the hotel and casino, said guests and staff could still reach the hotel by ferry.

Police are hunting right-wingers suspected of planting nearly a dozen bombs in the black township of Soweto last month, the country's worst series of bombings since white rule ended in 1994. One woman was killed and several people were injured.

White extremist groups have been accused of seeking to overthrow President Thabo Mbeki's government through a campaign of violence.

South Africa's intelligence agency said that it had uncovered and foiled a right-wing plot to poison the main water source for at least 10 million blacks who live in four townships near Johannesburg. Police discovered 26 pipe bombs in a rural area of Northern Cape province last week.

Another bomb exploded at the weekend at a small airport used by police helicopters in Johannesburg. No one was hurt.

A letter purporting to be from a group called Boeremag claimed responsibility for the Soweto bombings and threatened more violence around Christmas if a number of activists, including its leader, Tom Vorster, were not freed.

Mr Vorster and 19 others are due to stand trial next May on treason and other charges.

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