Middle East

Sudan accuses Israel of air raid, threatens payback

FILE - A man looks at the image of the remains of ammunition after a press conference held by Sudanese Culture and Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman in the capital Khartoum on October 24, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / ASHRAF SHAZLY)

KHARTOUM: Israeli missiles struck a military factory and killed two people in the Sudanese capital Wednesday, the government said, 18 months after alleging a similar raid by the Jewish state.

“We think Israel did the bombing,” Culture and Information Minister Ahmad Bilal Osman told a news conference. “We reserve the right to react at a place and time we choose.”

The military and Foreign Ministry in Israel, which has long accused Khartoum of serving as a base for militants from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, refused to comment.

Asked by Israel’s Channel 2 News station about Sudan’s accusations, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: “There is nothing I can say about this subject.”

Osman said four radar-evading aircraft carried out an attack at around midnight Tuesday on the Yarmouk military manufacturing facility.

He said Yarmouk makes “traditional weapons.”

“The attack destroyed part of the compound infrastructure, killed two people inside and injured another who is in serious condition,” he said.

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

The Cabinet held an urgent meeting Wednesday night but issued no statement afterward.

Outside the Cabinet office about 300 protesters denounced the United States and carried banners calling for Israel to be wiped off the earth.

“The army of Mohammad is returning,” they shouted.

Residents living near the Yarmouk factory told AFP an aircraft or missile flew over the facility shortly before the plant exploded and burst into flames.

An AFP reporter several kilometers 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 factory.

In 1998, Human Rights Watch said a coalition of opposition groups alleged that Sudan stored chemical weapons for Iraq at the Yarmouk facility but government officials strenuously denied the charge at the time.

In August of that year, U.S. cruise missiles struck the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum North, which Washington alleged was linked to chemical weapons production. Evidence for that claim later proved questionable.

A woman living south of the factory reported two initial blasts, after she saw “a plane coming from east to west.”

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

The sprawling Yarmouk facility is surrounded by barbed wire and set back about two kilometers from the district’s main road, meaning signs of damage were not visible later Wednesday when an AFP reporter visited.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 25, 2012, on page 1.




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