Khartoum arms fire R370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer )
Sudan on Wednesday called on the UN Security Council to condemn Israel after it accused the Jewish State of carrying out an airstrike in the country, causing a huge explosion and fire at an arms factory in Khartoum that killed two people.
Sudan, which analysts say is used as an arms-smuggling route to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip via neighboring Egypt, has blamed Israel for such strikes in the past, but Israel has either refused to comment or said it neither admitted or denied involvement.
In this respect, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday stated Israel has nothing to say about the matter. Likewise, when asked by Channel 2 news about Sudan's accusations, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: "There is nothing I can say about this subject."
Amos Gilad, top aide to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, also refused to comment on the incident, but referred to Sudan's role in "assisting terrorism," Army Radio reported Thursday.
A huge fire broke out late on Tuesday at the Yarmouk arms factory in the south of the capital which was rocked by several explosions, witnesses said. Firefighters took more than two hours to extinguish the fire at Sudan's main factory for ammunition and small arms.
"Four military planes attacked the Yarmouk plant ... We believe that Israel is behind it," Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman told reporters, adding that the planes appeared to approach the site from the east.
"Sudan reserves the right to strike back at Israel," he said, adding that two citizens had been killed and the plant had been partially destroyed. Another person was seriously injured, he said.
Pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat
also reported on Thursday that the United States closed its embassy due to protests outside the mission in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Wednesday, coinciding with the airstrike that hit a weapons plant in the country.
According to Al-Hayat
, there was speculation in Khartoum that the closing of the US embassy indicated the US had prior knowledge of the attack.
According to al-Rakoba, Osman also said Sudan has evidence from examining the weapons used in the attack that it was carried out by Israel, and that they also disabled radars at Khartoum airport before the air strike.
Around 300 people gathered at the courtyard of a government building where the Sudanese cabinet was in an emergency meeting, shouting "Death to Israel" and "Remove Israel from the map."
"Israel is a country of injustice that needs to be deterred," Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha, standing next to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, told the crowd. "This attack only strengthens our firmness."
The governor of Khartoum state initially had ruled out any "external" cause for the blast but officials later showed journalists a video from the vast site. A huge crater could be seen next to two destroyed buildings and what appeared to be a rocket lying on the ground.
Osman said an analysis of rocket debris and other material had shown that the attack was engineered by Israel, which Sudan views as an enemy.
Sudan's UN Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman called on the UN Security Council to condemn the attack "because it is a blatant violation of the concept of peace and security."
"It jeopardizes peace and security in the entire region, not just in Sudan," he told the council during a briefing on UN peacekeepers in Darfur. "We call on you to stop foreign hands from meddling in the Darfur conflict and to help Sudan arrive at a final solution that would maintain peace and security."
Several residents living near the factory told Reuters they had heard planes or missiles before there was a huge explosion.
"I heard a sound like a plane or missile and then the sky was lit up and a huge explosion occurred," a resident who declined to be identified said. "There was a big fire and several subsequent explosions."
Two other residents said buildings near the plant had suffered minor damage.
Soldiers blocked access to the gated plant where the main buildings are located away from the main street, making it difficult to assess the damage when a Reuters reporter visited the area after the midnight blast and on Wednesday morning.Jpost.com Staff and Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.