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Cape Town bomb injures eleven; Two held over police station blast.

Eleven people were hurt yesterday when a bomb exploded outside Cape Town's main police station, the latest of a string of attacks in South Africa's premier tourist city.

Police detained two suspects in connection with the bomb, which was hidden in a rubbish bin and went off during the busy lunchtime break. Four were seriously injured.

It was the latest incident in a season of bombings and shootings linked to Muslims fighting drug-peddling gangs and angry at Western attacks on Iraq.

"We are questioning two people we found in the area," police spokesman Mr Wicus Holtzhausen said.

Police suspected the bomb might have had a timer but without security cameras in front of the police station it would be impossible to tell when it was planted.

Previous Cape Town bombings have included two at the city's Waterfront tourist venue, which killed two people and injured 30. A number of police stations have also been bombed.

Dr Elmien Steyn, head of the trauma unit at the city hospital to which most of the injured were taken, said the wounds included cuts, bruises, shrapnel wounds and burns.

Most of the recent attacks have been attributed to a militant Muslim group, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs, with the rest laid at the door of the armed gangs that run rampant in the Cape Flats area east of the city.

Mr Moain Achmat, spokesman for Muslims Against Global Oppression, blamed what he called sinister forces trying to destabilise the province ahead of national elections expected in May.

"There is a third force busy and they must stop blaming Muslims," he said.

However, moderate Muslim academic Mr Faried Esack said that yesterday's blast was a warning by militant Muslims to tell police to "keep off their turf".

Police on Monday launched Operation Good Hope, a combined attempt with the army and airforce to wipe out the urban terrorism that has been plaguing the city.

"This is obviously not a good start. These people are showing us that they don't care about what we are trying to do," Police Commander Ganief Daniels said.

Police have been unable to secure convictions for any of the hundreds of violent attacks over the past year.

Yesterday's explosion was close to the spot where a Muslim rioter was killed by police during a visit by Tony Blair three weeks ago.

A Muslim leader said after that incident that militants would make the city ungovernable.

New National Party leader Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk went to the scene with Mr Michael Howard, Conservative foreign affairs spokesman.

"This bomb is a direct challenge to law enforcement," Mr van Schalkwyk said.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 29, 1999
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