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S. African Restaurant Blast Probed

November 5, 1998

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) _ Police investigating a deadly blast at a Planet Hollywood restaurant in Cape Town said today that a new terrorist group calling itself The Patriots may be linked to the bombing.

A letter sent by the previously unknown group to a radio station has claimed responsibility for bombing a Cape Town police station earlier this year.

Although the letter does not mention the Planet Hollywood attack, the pipe bomb used was ``forensically identical″ to the one placed in the restaurant, police director Leonard Knipe told a news conference.

Knipe also said 13 other bombings in Cape Town in recent years had used devices with similar tell-tale signs that indicated they came from a single source. The other bombings targeted police buildings and the homes of Muslim clerics.

``An assumption can be made that the people who placed the Planet Hollywood bomb may have placed other bombs,″ Knipe said.

Knipe said the letter, and the group it describes, could be a ``red herring″ but the police were following up all possible leads. Police stressed they had no other information on the group.

The letter, postmarked on the same Aug. 25 date that the Planet Hollywood bomb exploded, calls for a crackdown on drug dealers, illegal bars and corrupt police officers.

It expresses sympathy with local Islamic vigilante organization PAGAD, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs, but says The Patriots are a separate group.

Threatening to take further action unless its demands are met, the group said: ``Our sincere prayer is that the taking of innocent lives be minimal.″

Two people died after a bomb exploded at the bar of Planet Hollywood in the Waterfront area, one of Cape Town’s top tourist destinations.

Initially a caller to a local radio station claimed the blast on behalf of a local Islamic group, but the organization later denied responsibility and condemned the attack.

Update hourly