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S.Africa rebukes US, Britain over ‘terror’ alert

The South African government reacted angrily Wednesday to warnings by the United States and Britain about possible imminent “terrorist” attacks by Islamic extremists in the country’s major cities.

Without naming the countries, a strongly-worded government statement described the warnings as “alarmist” and said diplomatic action had been taken to register South Africa’s “displeasure”.

The US embassy, which Wednesday stood by its warning, said Saturday it had received information that “terrorist groups” were planning to carry out attacks in upmarket shopping malls in South Africa during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Britain issued a similar alert two days later — but Pretoria rejected the warnings as unsubstantiated.

“The information provided as a basis for the latest terror alerts on South Africa has been found to be very sketchy,” the government said in a statement.

“We have found the information to be dubious, unsubstantiated and provided by a ‘walk-in’ source based on questionable conclusions.”

South Africa said it rejected “attempts to generate perceptions of government ineptitude, alarmist impressions and public hysteria on the basis of a questionable single source,” it said.

The US embassy insisted, however, that it stood by its warning.

“U.S. Embassy in Pretoria confirms that there is no change in status of the Security Message issued on June 4, 2016. It was based on specific, credible, and non-counterable threat information.”

The British embassy did not immediately comment.

South Africa, which has a Muslim minority of around 1.5 percent in a population of some 53 million, has so far escaped the jihadist attacks seen in several other African countries.