Right-wingers suspected of targeting ANC due in court

18th December 2012, Comments 0 comments

Four armed men, suspected right-wing extremists who had targeted an ANC leadership meeting, will appear in court on terrorism and high treason charges Tuesday, South African authorities said.

"The current status of the investigation and evidence collected confirms that their activities were also directed to the ANC conference," Free State province police spokesman Billy Jones said in a statement, backtracking on earlier denials of any link with the ruling party's meeting.

The four men, aged 40-50 years old, who were arrested on Sunday, will appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrates' court, said Jones.

Keith Khoza, a spokesman for the African National Congress, said Monday the party had been given a preliminary report that the men may have been on route to blow up the conference venue.

But there were conflicting reports about what the suspects' target or targets may have been. Police denied a plot to bomb the conference Monday, saying arrests were made across the country after year-long investigations.

National police spokesman Phuti Setati told AFP reports quoting him on a bomb plot were "blue lies".

Security has been extremely tight at the ANC conference, with razor wire thrown up around a perimeter guarded by armed police.

Only a few pre-screened vehicles are allowed to enter what is normally the campus of the University of the Free State, where around 4,000 ANC delegates are gathered -- including the country's president, ministers and parliamentarians.

The conservative Federal Freedom Party earlier said two of its members had been arrested Sunday in northern Limpopo province. The party backs a federal South Africa with self-governing white regions, but has distanced itself from terrorist activities.

© 2012 AFP

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