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Police Shoot At Protesters, Killing 2 And Wounding Hundreds

March 26, 1990

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Police today fired on black protesters in a nearby township, killing at least two people and wounding many others, a hospital worker said.

Police said protesters in the Sebokeng township had stoned a police station and set fire to municipal buildings.

Elsewhere, factional fighting over the weekend left 15 blacks dead, according to police and press reports.

Police used shotguns and tear gas to disperse several thousand blacks in Sebokeng and the nearby township of Sharpeville protested high rent and poor housing and working conditions, witnesses said.

The townships are just south of Johannesburg, about six miles apart.

At least two blacks were killed and hundreds wounded in the conflict in Sebokeng, according to a nurse at the Sebokeng Hospital who declined to give her name. No injuries were reported in Sharpeville.

Police said suspected African National Congress guerrillas fired two rocket propelled grenades Sunday night at town council offices in the black township of Soweto outside Johannesburg. The two Soviet-made RPG-7 grenades caused some damage, but police said there were no injuries.

An hour later, three limpet mines were detonated at the Langlaagte power station in Johannesburg, badly damaging three transformers, police said. The blasts did not cause any injuries, they said.

Hundreds of police and security officers were hunting today for the men responsible for the attacks, the most serious in several months. Police were checking areas of Soweto and questioning possible suspects, officers said.

Police officials, who declined to be named, said they believed the ANC’s military wing mounted the attacks as ″a show of force″ to back its demands that the South African defense forces agree to a cease-fire.

Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders are to meet with the government April 11 in Cape Town to try to clear the way for talks on ending white-minority rule and sharing political power with blacks.

President F.W. de Klerk legalized the ANC and other black opposition groups last month in a bid to clear the way for talks on drafting a new constitution.

Police reports said at least seven people were killed Sunday in fighting between rival black factions in the eastern province of Natal.

They said four men were shot and killed when a mob burned 20 huts near Hibberdene and that three people were shot and killed in clashes around Gesubuzo.

The state-run South African Broadcasting Corporation said eight people were killed and nine injured in a factional fight Sunday near the Natal province town of Tugela Ferry.

Fighting flared around the Natal town of Edendale when rival groups attacked buses carrying supporters of the Zulu tribe’s Inkatha movement back from a rally. Police attempted to halt the attacks, but 26 buses and cars were damaged by rocks and other objects, police said.

Police reported no deaths in the clashes.

Hundreds of people have been killed in recent months in Natal in fighting between Inkatha and the rival ANC-backed United Democratic Front. Both groups oppose apartheid, but the more conservative Inkatha wants separate states for Zulus and other ethnic groups.

Efforts by Mandela and other black leaders in recent weeks to end the factional killings in Natal have been ineffective.

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