Sudan accuses Israel of striking Khartoum arms factory


Sudan has accused Israel of being behind air strikes that targeted a Khartoum military complex around midnight Wednesday. The strikes, reportedly carried out by four aircraft, killed two people and caused a huge, fiery explosion at an arms factory located at a Sudanese army complex, local reports said.

“We think Israel did the bombing,” Sudan Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman told a press conference Wednesday, the AAP news service reported, adding that Khartoum “reserve(s) the right” to respond at a “place and time” of its choosing.

Avital Leibovich, a spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), declined to comment on the Sudanese charge. “I will not comment on those reports,” Leibovich told journalists Wednesday, speaking on a press call organized by the Israel Project.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak similarly refused comment, telling reporters in Israel Wednesday, “I have nothing to say about this thing,” Reuters reported.

Israel similarly did not confirm or deny its widely reported role in 2009 strikes on alleged weapons convoys in Sudan. But Israeli analysts have given broad credence to the claims, noting Israel suspects that Sudan is being used as a transit hub for Iran arms supplied to militant groups in Gaza via Sudan and Egypt.

The “planes that bombed the factory in Khartoum allegedly entered #Sudan airspace from the east, officials say,” the Sudan Tribune’s Wasil Ali reported on Twitter.

Around midnight Wednesday, “sounds of explosions followed by huge fire” erupted at the Yarmook arms factory, south of the capital, “sparking a wave of panic among the area’s residents who fled their homes in fear,” the Sudan Tribune reported.

Sudanese officials initially tried to dispel residents’ fear by disputing that the explosion was caused by a “hostile act,” the paper reported, but by daybreak had pointed the finger at Israel as likely responsible.

Separately, Israel struck at least three suspected rocket launch sites and a smuggling tunnel in Gaza overnight Wednesday after Hamas fired some 75 Grad rockets into Israel over the past 24 hours, critically wounding two people, the IDF’s Leibovich said.

“Israel is not looking to escalate” with Hamas, Leibovich said.

Egypt is trying to help mediate a truce between Israel and Hamas, reports late Wednesday said, citing an unnamed Palestinian official described as close to the talks.

(Photo: Fire engulfed the Yarmouk ammunition factory in Khartoum October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer; map by the Food and Agriculture Organization.)