2 Bomb Blasts Hurt 19 in Johannesburg; ‘Callous Terrorism,’ Government Says
Two bombs exploded in downtown Johannesburg on Tuesday, shattering windows and hurling shards of metal and brick through the crowded streets. At least 19 people were injured, according to the government information bureau.
The first bomb exploded about 2 p.m. in a fast-food restaurant on one of Johannesburg’s busiest streets. The blast blew out the half-full restaurant’s plate glass windows, mangled the chairs and tables and started a fire.
Among the 18 blacks and whites injured in this explosion were two women who were badly burned when their clothing caught fire. A 2-month-old mixed-race baby being carried past the restaurant by her mother was cut by the flying glass. Four of the 18 were hospitalized, including the two women.
Unaware of Blood
Chaos followed as passers-by, some cut by the flying glass but apparently unaware of the blood flowing down their faces, tried to flee the congested area near Johannesburg’s city hall, and drivers frightened by the thunderous blast turned the wrong way down one-way streets in their attempts to escape.
Less than half an hour later, while the rescue teams and security forces were still dealing with the aftermath of the first blast, the second bomb exploded in a litter bin outside a hotel eight blocks away. A black man was slightly injured, according to the government information bureau.
The Johannesburg bombings Tuesday followed a massive car-bomb explosion on the beachfront in Durban 10 days ago that killed three and injured 69. Three more explosions in Durban early Sunday damaged a chemical plant, oil storage tanks and a number of stores in the center of the city.
The government called the Johannesburg bombings “callous acts of terrorism.” It has blamed these recent attacks on the outlawed African National Congress, the black nationalist group that has been fighting to overthrow apartheid, South Africa’s system of racial separation and white minority rule, for more than 25 years.
Civilians at Risk
Although the rebel headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia, has not confirmed a role in the recent bombings, it warned earlier that it intended to step up its attacks here and that civilians would be increasingly at risk. The ANC, while saying that its primary targets will remain government facilities, industrial plants, utilities and the police and military, wants its attacks to have a greater impact on the everyday life of whites here.
The current series of bombings is also seen as a rebel demonstration that the national state of emergency, declared June 12, has not affected the guerrillas’ ability to strike where they want.
Two more blacks were killed elsewhere in the country, the government information bureau reported, bringing to 59 by the bureau’s count the number of deaths since emergency rule was imposed. More than 1,800 people have died in almost two years of civil strife here.
Little unrest was reported elsewhere in the country, according to the information bureau, but severe restrictions on the press here prevent verification of this. Newsmen are prohibited under the emergency regulations from covering any unrest firsthand, from reporting on the activities of the police and army beyond what the government has said and from quoting “subversive statements” by the government’s critics.
Israeli Ordered Out
In the continuing crackdown on the foreign press, the government ordered an Israeli journalist, Dan Sagir, 30, a correspondent for state-run Israel radio and the influential newspaper Haaretz, to leave South Africa by midnight Thursday. No reason was given except that his work permit had expired and a renewal had been denied.
Sagir was the third employee of the foreign media to be expelled in the last 10 days. The government on Monday ordered the Newsweek correspondent, Richard Manning, to leave by Thursday, and last week it deported a CBS cameraman, Willem de Vos.
The government came under one of the sharpest attacks yet in Parliament on Tuesday over the state of emergency, which effectively gives martial law powers to the police and suspends most civil liberties.
“South Africa has become like El Salvador and Argentina, where thousands upon thousands of people go missing and the government won’t acknowledge where they are or whether they are dead or alive,” Helen Suzman, the veteran human rights campaigner from the opposition Progressive Federal Party, declared over the angry objections of the ruling National Party.