UPDATE 3-South Africa’s Zulu king wants end to “vile” xenophobic attacks

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Seven in anti-immigrant clashes this month

* Zulu king’ March 20 blamed for sparking

* King says comments taken “out of context”, attacks “vile” (Adds link graphic)

By Peroshni Govender

DURBAN, South Africa, – South Africa’ influential Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini described recent anti-immigrant attacks as “vile” on Monday, defending himself against claims previous comments he made about foreigners sparked the unrest.

At least seven people have been in the latest wave of anti-immigrant hit South Africa, which began almost three weeks ago in Durban, a coastal city in the Zulu heartland.

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TV stations across the country have scenes of angry mobs armed with machetes looting immigrant-owned shops, in the worst xenophobic since at least 67 people were in 2008.

Police said on Monday its had arrested three people linked the killing on Saturday of Mozambican man Emmanuel Sithole. Disturbing pictures of beating and stabbing Sithole in broad daylight were published in the Sunday Times, fuelling calls for the police do to protect immigrants.

“We need to sure no foreigners are attacked. We must stop these vile acts,” Zwelithini told thousands of supporters at a stadium in Durban, during a the popular leader hoped would restore calm among followers.