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12.12.2002 11.27 am
JOHANNESBURG - South African police have arrested five white men wanted in connection with an October bombing spree in the black township of Soweto.
The men were among six named on a "most wanted" list published after President Thabo Mbeki described bombings in Soweto and near the capital Pretoria as part of a right-wing coup plot. The bombings were the most serious to hit the country since apartheid rule ended in 1994.
Police said the arrested men were members of a right-wing group, but did not say whether they were referring to the underground organisation known as "Boeremag", which local newspaper reports say claimed responsibility for the Soweto bombings.
The five men were among a total of nine detained on Tuesday and Wednesday in a series of police sweeps around the country.
Authorities seized a total of 884kg of explosives as well as caches of firearms in the arrests, police spokesman Selby Bokaba said.
"We believe we have cracked the backbone of this group," Bokaba said.
The Soweto and Pretoria bomb attacks raised fears in South Africa of violence from white extremist groups seeking to upset the country's delicate racial and political balance.
Bokaba said the men would all appear in court within the next 48 hours to face charges including high treason, terrorism and sabotage. He said police were confident the final fugitive would be apprehended soon.
Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula told reporters that Wednesday's arrests came after a tip from the community and that any attempt to destabilise the country would fail.
South African President Thabo Mbeki accused right-wing whites in October of plotting to overthrow his majority-rule government, which came to power at the end of apartheid in 1994.
Some 20 people, including several with explicit links to the Boeremag, are already due to stand trial in May on treason and other charges.
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