South Africa closes embassies in Nigeria, fearing reprisal attacks

Zambia's university students burn the sign outside the South African Embassy in Lusaka on September 4, 2019 during a demonstration to protest against xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in the Rainbow Nation. (Photo by SALIM DAWOOD / AFP)

(CNN)South Africa has temporarily closed its diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria, fearing reprisal attacks against its citizens, an official told CNN.

The closures follow outbreaks of violence earlier this week in South Africa. At least five people were killed and 189 arrested during xenophobic attacks and looting in Johannesburg, Pretoria and elsewhere.
Much of the violence targeted migrants from other African countries and foreign-owned businesses. The attacks prompted retaliatory looting in Nigeria, with South African-owned brands being targeted in looting at stores.
    Government spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said officials in South Africa were currently assessing the threat and did not yet know when the diplomatic missions would reopen. The Nigerian arm of MTN, Africa's largest telecom company, closed all its stores until further notice after some of its outlets were targeted, the company said.
    The fallout from the outbreak of looting and violence that began on Sunday has been swift. Foreign nationals from countries including Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria were targeted.
    Since then Nigeria has pulled out of the World Economic Forum conference happening this week in Cape Town and plans to recall its ambassador, the country's foreign minister said Wednesday.
    Zambia has refused to play in a friendly football match against South Africa because of the violence. The two former African champions were set to meet in the Zambian capital, Lusaka Saturday, but the Football Association of Zambia has called off the match.
    Nigerian pop star Tiwa Savage canceled an upcoming concert in South Africa.
    One Nigerian company told CNN it has canceled plans for their annual employee holiday to the country, forfeiting nearly $30,000 in flights, accommodation and visa fees.
    Instead, the company is offering free flights back home for Nigerians who want to leave South Africa.
    Olawale Ayilara, CEO of Landwey Investments, a real estate company in Lagos,