The South African government is urging its citizens to be vigilant amid a possible resurgence of violence against immigrants.

The Cabinet said Thursday that early evidence suggested criminals were behind the violence and cautioned against labeling the recent wave of attacks as xenophobic.

The Cabinet statement appeared to be trying to downplay comparisons to mob attacks on immigrants in 2008 that led to at least 60 deaths.

A South African news outlet, eNCA, says 15 Somali-owned shops were looted in recent days as residents confronted gangs in a township in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth. Some immigrant-owned shops were also attacked after a Somali shop owner allegedly shot and killed two people from Zimbabwe in Diepsloot, a Johannesburg township.