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Nigerians Shocked by South African Anti-Immigrant Violence 


The violence against foreigners in South Africa is being monitored closely in Nigeria. Several thousand Nigerians live in South Africa, and some of them have been targeted in the recent violence against foreigners. Gilbert da Costa in Abuja has been gauging the mood in Nigeria and filed this report for VOA.

During a visit to the Nigerian capital, South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka issued a public apology for the anti-immigrant violence in her country.

Dozens of Nigerian-owned businesses have been targeted in nearly two weeks of violence in South Africa against immigrants, most of them from Zimbabwe and Somalia. The attacks blame immigrants for being responsible for crime and taking jobs.

Nigeria, like many other African countries, provided substantial support to the worldwide campaign against apartheid in South Africa.

"It is baffling to me and to most people that people who have been refugees all over the neighboring countries, and even here, during the apartheid, should forget the brotherly welcome they got from Africans, from the so-called frontline states. It is most baffling," said Peter Egom, a senior researcher at the Lagos-based Nigerian Institute for International Affairs.

Media in Nigeria have carried images of burned bodies in South African townships and hostile mobs harassing immigrants.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar Adua discussed the situation with his South African counterpart, Thabo Mbeki, at a mini-summit near the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha on Thursday.

At least 42 people have been killed and 25,000 have been displaced in two weeks of violence in South Africa.

South Africa is home to about five million immigrants.