Several bombs exploded overnight across this impoverished township, killing one person, damaging a mosque, ripping up railway lines and rekindling fears that right-wing extremists were trying to destabilize South Africa's multiracial government.
Authorities said they were investigating whether a link existed between the nine bombings in Soweto and the recent arrests of white men accused of plotting a coup. "Whoever manufactured . . . the bombs and placed them are experts," said the minister of safety and security, Charles Nqakula.
While not assigning blame for the bombings, President Thabo Mbeki said "right-wing groups have intended to conduct a campaign of this kind" to create a political climate that would lead to the overthrow of the post-apartheid government.
No one claimed responsibility for the bombings, and no arrests were made, police said.
White extremists planted bombs on the day of South Africa's first all-race election in 1994, but their influence has waned as many fears about the country's future proved unfounded. A small minority of whites continues to strongly oppose the multiracial democracy and advocates a return to the apartheid system of racial separation.
Former president Frederik W. de Klerk, the last white president of South Africa, called the overnight attacks outrageous and said all South Africans should condemn them. "We should not allow a tiny minority of fanatics to interfere with our determination to promote reconciliation and to build a strong, united and peaceful South African nation," he said.
The first bomb ripped through a wall at a mosque at 11:55 p.m. Tuesday, beginning a nearly two-hour frenzy of explosions. Soon after midnight, four more bombs blew up near a railway station, police said. A pair of bombs exploded at another station, and two more went off on a third rail line.
Claudina Mokane, 42, was killed as she slept when debris from one blast hit her shack hundreds of yards away, police said. Her husband, Simon Sikwati, 51, sustained head injuries.