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South Africa seeks to contain violence against migrants

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — South Africa’s government said on Thursday that prejudice was one of the factors that fueled bloody riots against foreign-owned stores after the attacks and subsequent reprisals overshadowed the second day of an economic conference in the country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa hopes the World Economic Forum will serve to showcase its efforts to revive the country’s faltering economy and boost trade among African countries.

But the week-long violence, in which at least seven people were killed and hundreds of others arrested, dominated the conference.

Although the nationalities of the victims were not made public, the riots revealed continuing tension between the host country and Nigeria, Africa’s two largest economies.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said most South Africans disagree with attacks on foreigners and the principle of freedom of movement for the continent’s citizens was essential.

The riots broke out eight days ago in Pretoria before moving to neighboring Johannesburg. Both cities have a large number of migrants.

The events raised fears that violence against foreigners would return in 2015, killing at least seven people. Before that, about 60 people were killed in a wave of unrest across the country in 2008.

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