An elderly British couple have been kidnapped in South Africa, police said on Thursday, amid reports they were abducted by extremists suspected to have links to the Islamic State group.
The British foreign office confirmed that a pair of Britons had been kidnapped and warned of a heightened risk of attacks by “terrorists” in South Africa.
The couple were abducted in KwaZulu-Natal province last week and have not yet been found, South African police told AFP, adding that two arrests had been made.
Local media said the couple, who live in Cape Town, were kidnapped while holidaying near the town of Vryheid.
Their disappearance was linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, reports said. Police declined to comment on any such link.
But they said the 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 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.
“There’s also a threat from individuals who may have been inspired by terrorist groups, including Daesh,” it added.
The US and Britain warned in 2016 of the possibility of attacks by jihadist extremists in South Africa’s major cities.
The country has so far been spared the jihadist attacks that have struck several other countries on the continent. Muslims account for just 1.5 percent of South Africa’s 54 million people.
In London, the British Foreign Office updated a travel advisory, saying “terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in South Africa.”
“The main threat is from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). In February 2018, two South African-British nationals were kidnapped,” it said.
Daesh, ISIL and ISIS are alternative names for the IS group.
The advisory said that some South Africans who had visited Syria, Iraq and Libya were “likely to pose a security threat on their return.”