South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki has approved the deployment of the army to quell violence against foreigners.

The announcement from his office came after xenophobic attacks spread outside Johannesburg to the city of Durban. It is the first time troops are being ordered out onto the streets to quell unrest since the end of apartheid. The violence, which began last week, has left more than 20 people dead and is estimated to have driven 30,000 people from their homes.

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation says many of the people were sheltering in mosques and churches around Johannesburg. There are believed to be between three and five million foreigners living in South Africa, most of them Zimbabweans fleeing poverty and violence at home. he Durban attack prompted about 700 African migrants to seek refuge in a nearby church while in Cape Town a safety forum has been set up to try to prevent violence.

Police say a group armed with sticks and bottles attacked Nigerians drinking in a tavern overnight. In Johannesburg, police fired rubber bullets to disperse mobs in one area on Tuesday. (Continue Reading…)

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