sudan darfur truck check caption 248 .
(photo credit: AP [file])
Following unconfirmed reports that the US or Israel attacked a convoy of trucks carrying weapons headed for the Gaza Strip in Sudan, a new report by Sudanese sources cited an additional strike on a ship possibly making its way to Sudan from Iran.
"There were indeed two strikes in Sudan, in January and February," Sudan's deputy transportation minister told Channel 10 on Thursday evening. "I cannot confirm that Israel or the US were behind the attack, but I know that the US controls the airspace there," he said.
"The second strike was against a ship at sea and it was completely destroyed," another Sudanese official said.
Also Thursday evening, Senior Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil denied reports the convoy was bound for Gaza. He was quoted as saying that the claims were circulated in order to justify an attack on Sudan.
Earlier, Sudanese State Minister for Highways Mabrouk Mubarak Saleem said that American aircraft had carried out the first attack.
Saleem, who spoke to Al Jazeera on Thursday, was quoted by Israel Radio as having said that the death toll in the bombing was much higher than initial reports, and stood at 800 people. He also claimed that the trucks were filled with people, and did not contain weapons.
According to a CBS News report, 39 people were killed when IAF warplanes bombed the convoy and all 17 trucks were destroyed.
Saleem's statement was in stark contradiction to a Sudanese Tribune report from earlier this week in which he was quoted as saying that a "major power bombed small trucks carrying arms, burning all of them." He added that the raid killed "Sudanese, Eritreans and Ethiopians, and injured others."
On Thursday, Reuters quoted two Sudanese politicians who confirmed that the strike had taken place. They declined to point fingers but one of them said that his colleagues had spoken to a survivor of the strike.
"There was an Ethiopian fellow, a mechanic. He was the only one who survived. He said they came in two planes. They passed over them, then came back and they shot the cars. He couldn't tell the nationality of the aircraft ... The aircraft destroyed the vehicles. There were four or five vehicles," he was quoted as saying.
Reuters quoted the politician as saying that the route along which the strike took place was located in a desert area northwest of Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast and was used regularly by groups that smuggled weapons into Egypt.
"Everyone knows they are smuggling weapons to the southern part of Egypt," he was quoted as saying.