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Wednesday, August 26, 1998 Published at 20:26 GMT 21:26 UK

World: Africa

FBI joins Planet Hollywood inquiry

Rescuers tend to the injured

The BBC's Jeremy Vine in Cape Town: "Barbed wire outside Planet Hollywood"
Investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation are flying to South Africa after an explosion at an American theme restaurant in South Africa.

One woman was killed and 27 injured in the explosion at Cape Town's Planet Hollywood.

Eleven of the injured are said to be in a critical condition. Nine of those are British citizens, according to South African police.

South African police commissioner George Fivaz has been in close contact with FBI agents in Kenya and Tanzania, who are investigating bomb attacks on US embassies.

[ image: Sifting through the rubble]
Sifting through the rubble
A spokeswoman for Commissioner Fivaz said a small team from the FBI would fly from east Africa later to assist the South African police.

South African police believe an explosive device was hidden in the bar area of the Planet Hollywood in the city's popular Waterfront area.

A person claiming to represent an organisation called Muslims Against Global Oppression telephoned a radio station shortly after the explosion claiming responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for the US attacks last week on suspected terrorist strongholds in Sudan and Afghanistan.

But an official statement by the group later denied that any responsibility for the attack.

The BBC's Dominic Medley reports from the scene: "Whole area in shock"
Police are combing through the restaurant trying to establish whether the explosion was caused by a home-made device known as a "Pipe Bomb", often used by urban vigilante groups in Cape Town, who clash frequently with gangsters and drug dealers in the city.

An eyewitness, Joe Kroukam, said he and his partner were having dinner in a section that was not badly damaged.

"We were sitting having supper and we heard a loud bang behind us. Then debris was falling down on our plates and I turned round and I saw all these people lying around with limbs missing. It was terrible," he said.

[ image: The explosion  took place in a crowded restaurant]
The explosion took place in a crowded restaurant
South Africa's second city has a large Muslim community with some extremist elements.

Three generations of a Giddings family, from the New Forest in Hampshire, England, were caught in the restaurant.

Eight-year-old Laura required surgery to amputate her foot after receiving injuries in the blast.

US condemnation

A South African Government spokesman said President Nelson Mandela was deeply shocked by the attack.

The BBC's Greg Barrow: "The police are trying to sift through the evidence"
The US has condemned the bombing and said its investigators would work closely with South Africa to track down the perpetrators.

"We are condemning in strongest terms what appears to be an outrageous and despicable attack on innocent people," a US government spokeswoman said.

The BBC correspondent in South Africa, Greg Barrow, says some observers have been quick to describe this incident as the work of opportunists representing a constituency of extremist Muslim opinion.

He says it does demonstrate a level of anger within Muslim communities about military action against people the US describes as terrorists.

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