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South Africa prepares army deployment against anti-immigrant violence

As South Africa struggles with a wave of xenophobic violence, the army is set to be deployed to restore order. Seven people have been killed since the violence started weeks ago.

South African Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula announced on Tuesday that the army would be deployed in an effort to combat the xenophobic violence that has caused some

foreigners living in the country to flee

.

"We come in as the last resort; the army will serve as a deterrent against the crime that we see," Mapisa-Nqakula told reporters in Johannesburg.

Seven people have lost their lives in recent weeks.

The xenophobic attacks started in the eastern coastal city of Durban several weeks ago, after the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, was reported to have said that foreigners must "take their bags and go."

The king later dismissed the claims and urged the population to be calm, saying that he had only referred to foreign nationals who were committing crimes. However, the wave of violence continued to spread and forced thousands of migrants to take refuge in makeshift camps.

The riots have also sparked international outrage, with Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique announcing plans to evacuate their citizens.

South Africa has a population of roughly 52 million people, with some 5 million immigrants, mostly from other parts of Africa, living in the country. Despite a relatively successful economy, the country is burdened by high unemployment, and some immigration critics contend that the foreign workers are taking jobs and opportunities away.

mz/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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