The Government has warned UK citizens travelling to South Africa of an increased risk of kidnapping and possible terror attacks in the country.
The travel advice was issued after two British-South African nationals were kidnapped in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this month by people suspected of having links to Islamic State, local media report.
A spokesman for the Hawks, an elite police unit investigating the kidnapping, said they had no evidence Islamist militants were behind the incident.
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“The couple are still missing at this stage,” said spokesperson Lloyd Ramovha. “No ransom has been demanded. Our investigation so far has not revealed any links to terrorists, let alone IS.”
Security officials and experts say “there are no known Islamist militant groups operating in South Africa”, where Muslims make up less than 2% of the population, Reuters reports.
Jasmine Opperman, director of Southern Africa Operations at the Terrorism, Research and Analysis Consortium think tank, described the British travel advisory as “alarmist”.
“South Africa’s vulnerability for attack is there, but are there solid indications of attacks now as we sit here? There are none,” she told eNCA television.
Similar travel advice was given in 2016, with both the UK and the US warning of the possibility of terror attacks on upmarket shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Foreign affairs spokesperson Clayson Monyela responded angrily to the move, accusing the embassies of encouraging panic with a false alarm.
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