South Africa closes its embassies in Nigeria after attacks

South Africa has closed its embassies in the Nigeria’s capital, Abuja and the commercial hub of Lagos following attacks on South African businesses.

They were targeted in retaliation for xenophobic violence that erupted earlier this week in South African cities, including Johannesburg.

“After receiving reports and threats from some of the Nigerians we decided to temporarily close while we are assessing the situation,” AFP quotes foreign ministry spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele as saying.

Both countries stepped up security on Wednesday after deadly attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg triggered reprisals against South African businesses in Nigerian cities.

Diplomatic tensions have risen between the continent’s superpowers, with Nigeria declaring it would boycott the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, which was to be attended by its vice president, Yemi Osinbajo.

On Tuesday, Nigeria summoned the South African ambassador for talks and said President Muhammadu Buhari was sending an envoy to convey his displeasure to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria government confirmed that a local airline, Air Peace, had opted to help evacuate all Nigerians who want to return home from South Africa at no cost.

Nigeria is the most vocal nation amid the latest wave of anti-foreigner violence in South Africa. Rwanda, DR Congo and Malawi also boycotted the Cape Town event. Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia were among the attendees.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry slammed the incidents and Botswana currently has a travel advisory on South Africa. 

Zambians protested on Wednesday at premises of South Africa owned businesses, at the embassy in Lusaka and at the presidential residence.

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