Last Updated: Thu Oct 25, 2012 21:29 pm (KSA) 18:29 pm (GMT)

Israeli planes bombed weapons factory near Khartoum: Sudan

One explosion sent detonating ammunition flying through the air and causing panic (Reuters)
One explosion sent detonating ammunition flying through the air and causing panic (Reuters)

Sudan said on Wednesday that four planes had bombed a weapons factory in Khartoum the previous night, blaming Israel for the surprise raids.

“We think Israel did the bombing,” Sudan’s Culture and Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman

“We reserve the right to react at a place and time we choose.”

The foreign ministry of Israel, which has long accused Khartoum of serving as a base for militants from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, refused to comment.

Osman said four aircraft were involved in the attack, which occurred at about midnight (21:00 GMT) at the Yarmouk military manufacturing facility in the south of the Sudanese capital.

Evidence pointing to Israel was found among remnants of the explosives, he said.

Residents of the area earlier told AFP an aircraft or missile flew over the facility shortly before it exploded and burst into flames.

An AFP reporter several kilometers (miles) away saw two or three fires flaring across a wide area, with heavy smoke and intermittent flashes of white light bursting above the state-owned Yarmouk factory.

“I heard a sound like a plane in the sky, but I didn't see any light from a plane. Then I heard two explosions, and fire erupted in the compound,” said a resident who asked to be identified only as Faize.

A woman living south of the compound also reported two initial blasts.

“I saw a plane coming from east to west and I heard explosions and there was a short length of time between the first one and the second one,” she said, asking not to be named.

“Then I saw fire and our neighbour's house was hit by shrapnel, causing minor damage. The windows of my own house rattled after the second explosion.”

Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Mohammed Hussein and senior officials visited the site of the explosion and held an emergency meeting with top army generals while security forces sealed off the area surrounding the complex and halted traffic.

Khartoum governor Abdul Rahman Khedr told SUNA agency that no one died in the explosion. He said the fire was under control and an investigation into the cause is under way.

In 2009, a convoy carrying weapons in northeastern Sudan was targeted from the air, killing dozens. It was widely believed that Israel carried out the attack on weapons shipment headed for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Israel never confirmed or denied that. Sudanese parliamentarians denied that weapons were transported in the area.

In 1998, the United States cruise missiles bombed a Khartoum pharmaceutical factory suspected of links to al-Qaeda in the aftermath of the terror group's bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

Sudan has been a major hub for al-Qaeda militants and a transit for weapon smugglers and African migrant traffickers.

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