Thousands of foreigners flee to South African police stations after attacks
Armed mobs attack foreigners in South Africa
(CNN)More than 2,000 people fled to South African police stations Thursday after mobs armed with machetes attacked foreigners in Durban, leaving at least five people dead, an aid group said.
The attacks in the port city killed two foreigners and three South Africans, including a 14-year-old boy, authorities said.
Heavily armed police scrambled to stop the clashes after local residents took to the streets this week, accusing foreigners from other African nations of taking their jobs.
"There has been an outpouring of support from ordinary South Africans who are disgusted with the attacks not only because they are foreign, or African, but because they are fellow human beings," said Gift of the Givers charity, which is helping those seeking refuge at police stations.
"We are preparing aid packages for those who may journey onwards to their home countries."
The aid group said it hopes the violence is limited to Durban, but assured foreigners it has a facility in Johannesburg to help those who might need shelter there.
"We have tents and all essential supplies on standby but pray that sanity prevails and this does not become necessary," it said.
In the past, Johannesburg has been the epicenter of anti-foreigner tensions.
In 2008, scores were killed in attacks on foreigners in the poorest areas of Johannesburg. Most of the victims were Zimbabweans who had fled repression and dire economic circumstances. In that attack, police arrested more than 200 people for various crimes including rape, murder, robbery and theft.