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South Africa assesses report of Iran plot to kill US envoy

Allegation took Pretoria ‘by surprise’.
The Islamic nation is allegedly considering an assassination to avenge the US’s killing of one of its top generals Qassem Soleimani earlier this year. Image: Supplied

South Africa’s government is assessing a report that Iran is plotting an attack on the US envoy to Pretoria.

Politico reported on Sunday that Iran is considering an attempt to assassinate US Ambassador Lana Marks to avenge the US’s killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani earlier this year.

Intelligence about the alleged threat, which first surfaced in the spring, has become more specific in recent weeks, the news website said, citing an unidentified US government official.

Iran denied the report

“Such baseless claims are part of the [US President Donald] Trump administration’s intelligence campaign against Iran,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Monday in a statement.

South Africa’s State Security Agency later said the matter is receiving the necessary attention.

“The agency is interacting with all relevant partners both in the country and abroad, to ensure that no harm will be suffered by the US ambassador” and other diplomatic staff, it said in a statement. “The nature of the allegation and attendant threat doesn’t permit us to give any detailed updates on the investigations.”

A spokesman for South Africa’s foreign ministry said the US official’s allegation took Pretoria by surprise.

“We only became aware of this report this morning,” Lunga Ngqengelele said by phone on Monday.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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