Death Toll for Weekend Hits 35 in South Africa

From Reuters

Twenty-six people died during weekend violence in the black township of Soweto, half of them killed during a rampage by a gang that included whites with blackened faces, witnesses said Sunday.

Elsewhere, nine people died in fighting rooted in the bitter rivalry between Nelson Mandela's African National Congress and supporters of the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party, taking South Africa's weekend death toll to 35, police said.

The scene of the worst violence was at Soweto's Tladi shack settlement, when about 100 unidentified attackers, including whites with blackened faces, rampaged on Saturday night, attacking occupants and smashing houses apart, witnesses said.

They said the gun-toting whites aiding the attack were given away by their blue eyes and unblackened hands.

The incident will fuel charges by the ANC that white right-wing extremists are responsible for instigating the monthlong fighting around Johannesburg, which has claimed more than 600 lives.

ANC officials say security forces and white right-wingers are joining supporters of Inkatha to fan the violence in an attempt to wreck talks on ending apartheid between the ANC and the white government.

The government and police deny the charges.

A police spokesman said 13 bodies were found shot, stabbed or hacked to death after the Tladi attack.

Security forces fired shotguns, tear gas and rubber bullets at stone-throwing youths after moving in to keep peace in the area.

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