South Africa said Thursday it had temporarily closed its diplomatic missions in Nigeria following violence against South African businesses carried out in reprisal for attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg.

“After receiving reports and threats from some of the Nigerians we decided to temporarily close while we are assessing the situation,” foreign ministry spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele said.

The embassy in Abuja and consulate in Lagos were shut on Wednesday, he said.

He told AFP the decision was made to protect employees after “groups of people” tried to force their way into the Lagos consulate.

“We will be monitoring the situation,” said Ngqengelele. “When we see it necessary to open, we will re-open.”

Nigeria stepped up security on Wednesday after xenophobic violence in Johannesburg triggered reprisals against South African businesses in Nigerian cities.

South Africa is a major destination for economic migrants from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. But others come from much farther away, including South Asia and Nigeria.

Source: National News Agency