Growing fears as ISIS terrorist cell have kidnapped British couple in South Africa

The Foreign Office has issued a warning to tourists who are planning on visiting South Africa amid what they perceive to be an increased risk of terror attacks.

It comes after two British nationals were kidnapped in the country, however local authorities have downplayed the connection to terrorism. South Africa’s elite police unit Hawks said the force was investigating the kidnapping.

Despite previous attacks on tourists in South Africa, no similar warning was issued by the Foreign Office with regards to terror.

The kidnapping took place on the 12 February in the southern KwaZulu-Natal province, and is thought to have involved a 74-year-old man who moved from Britain to South Africa in the 1970s and his South African-born wife, 63.

According to news24 two suspects, Sayfydeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 38, and Fatima Patel, 27, faced a charge of kidnapping as well as offences that fall under an anti-terrorism act. Patel – with her brother Ebrahim – was previously arrested in 2016 during raid that led to the arrests of twin brothers accused of plotting attacks on the US embassy in Pretoria and Jewish institutions.

Speaking to Reuters, Captain Lloyd Ramovha, a spokesman for the Hawks police unit said: “We’ve got a dedicated team that’s out there 24-7,” Mr Ramovha said. “The search continues.”

Their vehicle was found in the northern part of the city of Durban and is currently undergoing forensic investigations.

Downplaying terror connections, Ramovha said: “The couple are still missing at this stage. No ransom has been demanded. Our investigation so far has not revealed any links to terrorists, let alone [Isis].”

Responding, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We have updated our travel advice to include this recent incident. Our travel advice already states that terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in South Africa. This remains our assessment.”

But officials in South Africa criticised the Whitehall comments, including the director of southern Africa operations at the Terrorism Jasmine Opperman, who said that the update on travel advice was “alarmist.”

Source: IBTimes