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SAfrica: possible arson at ruling party office

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September 4, 2013 05:37 AM EST | AP


JOHANNESBURG — South African police are investigating a possible arson attack at the Johannesburg headquarters of the country's ruling party.

Officials of the African National Congress say the incident happened Tuesday evening in a reception room where a concealed bottle filled with chemicals exploded, setting a couch on fire.

In a statement, the party says security guards used fire extinguishers to put out the flames at its headquarters at Chief Albert Luthuli House. It describes the incident as an apparent attempt to "destabilize" the party.

The ANC has dominated politics since the end of white minority rule in 1994 and is the overwhelming frontrunner ahead of national elections next year. But corruption scandals, economic hardship and a stronger opposition have chipped away at its support in some areas.