An Iranian vessel laden with weapons bound for the Gaza Strip was torpedoed off the coast of Sudan last week, allegedly by Israeli or American forces operating in the area, the Egyptian newspaper El-Aosboa reported yesterday.

Anonymous sources in Khartoum told the newspaper that an unidentified warship bombed the Iranian vessel as it prepared to dock in Sudan before transferring its load for shipment to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The sources said they suspect U.S. or Israeli involvement in the attack, but neither Washington nor Jerusalem have released a statement on the matter. The Israel Air Force is suspected of attacking a convoy of Iranian arms that passed through Sudan en route to Gaza in January, according to foreign news reports released in March.

American officials confirmed the IAF involvement in that attack, The New York Times later reported, and said they had received intelligence reports that an Iranian Revolutionary Guard operative had gone to Sudan to help organize the weapons convoy, according to the report. Israel has neither denied nor confirmed involvement in that incident.

In February, Cypriot authorities detained an Iranian arms ship en route to Syria, apparently upon request of the U.S. and Israel.

A search of the ship, which was sailing from Iran to the Syrian port of Latakia, turned up ammunition for T-72 tanks, used by the Syrian army, as well as various types of mortar shells, said a senior Israeli official. The United States has claimed that the ship was carrying weapons from Iran to Hamas or the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah.