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South African president apologizes to Mozambique

MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — South Africa’s president has apologized to the neighboring country of Mozambique for a spate of attacks on foreigners in his country.

On a two-day state visit to the Mozambique, South African President Jacob Zuma expressed regret over the public violence that has tarnished his country’s image, especially among its African neighbors.

Last month, a Mozambican immigrant was one of seven people killed in violence targeting immigrants living in South Africa.

“It is important that I apologize in the name of a small minority of South Africans who carried out these atrocious acts,” Zuma said at a banquet held by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, in the Mozambican capital Maputo on Wednesday evening.

The South African government is working to ensure that similar attacks do not take place again, Zuma said. South African officials condemned the violence and have also tried to address complaints that immigrants living in the country illegally are taking employment opportunities from locals.

More than 2,000 Mozambicans returned home following the violence, according to Mozambican authorities.

South African police have recently carried out raids in which nearly 4,000 people were arrested, including 1,650 foreigners living in the country illegally, according to a police statement.

Rights groups have criticized the operation, saying it unfairly targeted foreigners, but police have hailed Operation Fiela — meaning to sweep clean in the local Sotho language — as a success.

More than 400 Mozambicans living in South Africa were also deported after they were arrested in the raids.

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Associated Press writer Lynsey Chutel contributed to this report from Johannesburg.

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