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Sudan accuses Israel of bombing arms factory

October 24, 2012 | 12:07 pm

SUDAN-FIRE-KHARTOUM
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Sudan on Wednesday accused Israel of launching an airstrike that caused a large explosion at a munitions factory, killing two people, in a residential area of the capital, Khartoum.

Sudan Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman said four planes bombed the Yarmouk complex housing a military arms factory in the south of the capital and that an analysis of rocket debris from the explosion confirmed Israel was behind the attack.

"We think Israel did the bombing," Belal said. "We reserve the right to react at a place and time we choose."

The government of Israel, which has been accused in the past of airstrikes in Sudan, didn’t comment on Sudan’s accusations Wednesday.

Belal said the planes used sophisticated technology to evade anti-aircraft systems. The Sudanese government would take the matter to the U.N. Security Council, he said.

Local residents reported seeing fighter jets launch the attack that caused the blast, journalists said.

“One resident I spoke to said he saw two planes. The first plane had large lights and it was basically guiding the plane behind it. When its light became bright, they heard a rocket that followed and there was a large explosion," said journalist Ishmail Kushkush. "I spoke to another resident who said he saw three planes."

Kushkush said witnesses reported two people had been killed.

“All said there was a very large explosion. Shrapnel went in all directions. Houses were damaged. One person told me his entire back room collapsed,” Kushkush said.

Sudan has accused Israel of other attacks in recent years, including the bombing of a truck convoy allegedly carrying arms in eastern Sudan in 2009. Last year, Sudan accused Israel of an attack on a vehicle in the same area, which killed two people. A similar attack occurred in May, killing one.

“The main purpose is to frustrate our military capabilities and stop any development there and ultimately weaken our national sovereignty," Belal said.

Israel has never confirmed or denied involvement in the incidents in 2009, 2011 and in May. There has been speculation, however, that the attacks on vehicles were linked to arms smuggling through Sudan to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

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-- Robyn Dixon

Photo: A fire following an explosion at Yarmouk military factory in Khartoum, Sudan. Credit: EPA

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