ABUJA, Nigeria's foreign affairs minister has summoned the South African envoy after Nigerian citizens came under violent xenophobic attacks in Pretoria.

The ministry further condemned the attacks and cautioned that this will jitter unnecessary tension between the two countries.

Relations have been strained by accusations of South African xenophobia, with Nigerians alleging that Pretoria subjects them to harsh visa restrictions.

In the streets of Abuja, Nigerians expressed their anger over the attacks.

"They have their citizens here, right? They are not attacking them, nothing is happening to them, why are they attacking us over there? Why are they attacking us over there? Then come to the part of our government I think before this very time government ought to have taken a stand over that thing. They ought to have intervened, it shouldn't have come this far," said Abuja resident, Oladapo John.

On the other hand, the South African government has dismissed xenophobic claims and that there was no need for African Union intervention as demanded by Nigeria. The South African government has maintained that its citizens were not xenophobic and the attacks were in response to rampant drugs and prostitution common in the vandalized centres.

The series of xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa have provoked an angry response in Nigeria, where protesters ransacked the offices of a South African telecoms giant Thursday.

A spokesman for South African mobile phone firm MTN said that protesters in the Nigerian capital of Abuja had "vandalized equipment, stole customer phones and iPads" and attacked MTN customers at the firm's customer care center.

The MTN spokesman said that the protesters were motivated by the xenophobic violence in South Africa.

The National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) said it had given South Africans 48 hours to get out otherwise the attacks would continue and the vandalisation of MTN's offices would be just the beginning.

The students' threats follow the looting this week of at least 20 small businesses believed to belong to immigrants in South Africa's capital, Pretoria.

"We are not going to kill like them and that is why we have asked their citizens to leave, but we will sure destroy their businesses," NANS president Aruna Kadiri said.

The incident coincided with a visit by MTN chairman Phuthuma Nhleko to the Nigerian capital to see Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has been in charge for the last month with President Muhammadu Buhari absent on sick leave.

South African foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela called for both sides to keep their cool.

"'An eye for an eye makes the world blind' . 'Violence begets violence'. We are better than this. Africans are one people!" Monyela said on Twitter.

Nigeria and South Africa, the continent's two largest economies, have endured rocky relations before. Xenophobic violence flares up periodically in South Africa, and Nigeria recalled its ambassador to the country in 2015 after seven people were killed in a spate of anti-immigrant attacks in Johannesburg and Durban.


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