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Wednesday, 13 September, 2000, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Cape premier 'cheats death'
An injured woman is helped to an ambulance
The injured included three women, three men and a policeman
Western Cape Premier Gerald Morkel has said he believes the bomb blast outside a mosque in Cape Town on Tuesday was an attempt to assassinate him.


I was very, very lucky. Other people were injured

Gerald Morkel
Police said the bomb exploded near a hall where he was attending a political meeting.

Tuesday's attack was the 20th major blast in the past two years in the coastal city, South Africa's top tourist destination.

And the South African Government has now formally declared that it is at war with a vigilante Muslim group, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad). which it blames for the wave of terror.

Justice Minister Penuell Maduna accused Pagad of being behind Tuesday's bombing and accused them of "kicking sand in the government's face".

Lucky escape

Mr Morkel told the South African Press Association: "The timing was perfect. I was just getting out of my car at 7.59 pm and then the bomb went off."

Premier Gerald Morkel
Premier Gerald Morkel: Cheated death by a minute
His spokesman said that if the premier had arrived a minute later, he would have been killed.

Seven people were injured in the blast, one seriously, close to the Gatesville mosque, a Pagad powerbase.

It comes less than a week after a prominent anti-terror judge was murdered in Cape Town.

The police say they do not rule out an assassination attempt, but they are also pursuing other lines of enquiry.

War against Pagad

Mr Maduna said that while the present situation did not warrant declaring a state of emergency, the government was considering introducing anti-terrorism legislation.

Murdered judge Pieter Theron
Judge Pieter Theron's murder last week shocked South Africans
He said that South Africa needed a proper piece of legislation that would deal with acts of terror as acts of terror.

Hours before the blast, South African Safety and Security Minister Steve Tshwete told parliament of plans to crush Pagad.

"They use Islam as a front for their cowardly activities, bringing the name of a great religion into disrepute," Mr Tshwete told MPs.

"They are terrorists pure and simple," he said.

Bombing campaign

Past attacks have been directed against restaurants, police stations and gay bars, leaving three people dead and more than 100 injured.

Justice Minister Penuell Maduna
The justice minister wants new laws to combat terrorism
No one has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.

About 100 Pagad members are awaiting trial on a range of charges including possessing explosives, but no one has been charged with carrying out the bombings.

Pagad has repeatedly denied responsibility for the attacks and says it does not condone violence.

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See also:

08 Sep 00 | Africa
Clampdown after Cape killing
28 May 99 | South Africa elections
South Africa's crime crisis
07 Sep 00 | Africa
Break-in at Mbeki's home
09 Aug 00 | Africa
Concern over SA anti-terror bill
13 Sep 00 | Africa
Pagad: Vigilantes or terrorists?
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