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Six Ethiopians Killed in South Africa

Witnesses in Durban, South Africa, say six people of Ethiopian origin have been killed in alleged xenophobic attacks over the past week.

Yonas Fikru, an Ethiopian businessman in Durban, says he knew all six victims, all of them men in their 20s who he says used to hang out at his shop.

He says they were killed in separate incidents, mostly during daylight hours, by South Africans.

"They just come, steal and attack. In fact, the body of one of the victims is about to be sent to back home ... they doused his body in kerosene and killed him. But there were two others who were killed before him," Fikru told VOA's Horn of Africa Service in an interview Friday. "[The attackers] didn’t steal anything from them. They just came and killed them.”

Tegegne Aboye, another member of the Ethiopian community in Durban, said locals have tried multiple times to report incidents to the police but “it always falls on deaf ears.”

“The killer vigilante mobs are thinking that it is their right to do what they are doing," he said. "Even when they are caught or when someone point out criminals, we see them released shortly. Some of them steal and we see them coming out the next day and committing more crime.”

Aboye said the Ethiopian embassy has not given enough help.

"We see our brothers getting killed, doused with a three-liter jerrican of kerosene, and no one is helping us when this happens," he said. "We haven’t seen anyone sticking up for Ethiopian citizens here."

VOA attempts to contact South African police about the cases received no response by the time of publication.

South Africa has experienced recurring bouts of attacks against foreigners in recent years. Poor South Africans blame the immigrants for taking jobs and contributing to crime.

Salem Solomon, Dan Joseph & Mariama Diallo contributed to this report