Sudan Accuses Israel of Carrying Out Air Strike on Port Sudan

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Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Karti on Wednesday accused Israel of carrying out a strike on a car near Port Sudan that killed two people.

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Sudanese police have said a missile struck the car near the port city on Tuesday. A state government official said the strike was carried out by a foreign aircraft that flew in from the Red Sea.

A photo of an attack on Port Sudan on April 5, 2011. Credit: Sudan Tribune

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor declined to comment on the accusation.

Two people were killed in an attack on a car near Port Sudan on Tuesday. Witnesses at the scene near the airport at Sudan's main port city said the small car was destroyed and the two charred bodies of its passengers could be seen.

"This is absolutely an Israeli attack," he told reporters. He said Israel undertook the attack in order to scupper Sudan's chances of being removed from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

One of the two people killed in the strike was a Sudanese citizen who had no ties to Islamists or the government, he said.

Sudan is on a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, but Washington this year initiated the process to remove it from that list after a peaceful January referendum in which the country's south voted to secede.

"A missile from an unknown source probably bombed the car," police spokesman Ahmed Al-Tahmi told Reuters on Tuesday. He earlier told local radio the missile had likely been fired from the Red Sea.

The Sudanese Media Centre, a news agency linked to Sudan's state security apparatus, and the speaker of the Red Sea state parliament, Ahmed Tahir, said an unidentified aircraft had flown into Sudanese air space to bomb the car.

The plane came in from the Red Sea and flew back after the bombing, Tahir said. The Sudanese Media Centre said the army responded with missiles that the foreign plane managed to evade.

"We heard three loud explosions," a source at Port Sudan airport told Reuters. "We went outside to see what was happening and eye witnesses told us they saw two helicopters which looked liked Apaches flying past."

This is not the first time mystery has surrounded a strike in Sudan's eastern Red Sea state.

In January 2009, a convoy of arms smugglers was hit by unidentified aircraft in Sudan's eastern Red Sea state according to Sudanese authorities, a strike that some reports said may have been carried out by Israel to stop weapons that most probably came from Iran and were bound for Gaza.

A total of 119 people were killed in that strike near Sudan's border with Egypt, according to state media.

Following the 2009 attack, there were reports that Israeli aircraft were operating against smuggling ships intending on transferring weapons to Hamas in Gaza.

The area of Sudan serves as a smuggling area for weapons provided by Iran, as well as weapons purchased in the black markets of Yemen, Somalia, and Eritrea.

Israeli officials, including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have spoken about "the long arm" of Israel which reaches areas far from its borders, and also suggested Israeli presence around the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.