New Satellite Images Suggest Sudan Site Hit by Airstrike

Photos released by U.S. monitoring group show several wide craters; Sudan has accused Israel of bombing Khartoum military complex, killing two people; Sudan's information minister: Israeli interests 'legitimate targets' after alleged strike.

A U.S. monitoring group says satellite images of the aftermath of an explosion at a Sudanese weapons factory suggest that the site was hit by an airstrike.

The Sudanese government has accused Israel of bombing its Yarmouk military complex in Khartoum last week, killing two people and leaving the factory in ruins.

The images, released by the Satellite Sentinel Project to The Associated
Press on Saturday, showed several 52-foot (16-meter) wide craters. Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the project, which is backed by Hollywood actor George Clooney, said military experts found the craters to be "consistent with large impact craters created by air-delivered munitions."

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 always either refused to comment or said it neither admitted nor denied involvement.

On Friday, Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said that Israel carried out the strike in reaction to changes in the region.

"The reckless behavior is a manifestation of Israel's concerns and nervousness about the political and social upheavals in the region and about the progress of Sudan," the Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) reported him as saying, in an address to the nation on the occasion of the Muslim celebration of Eid Al-Adha.

"Such aggressive acts by the Zionist entity could never force Khartoum to change its policies," he added. 

Sudan's Minister of Information Ahmed Belal Othman, meanwhile, said that the Sudanese government would take "more decisive steps" against Israeli interests, which he described as "legitimate targets" for Sudan following the alleged strike.

Othman also told reporters that evidence at the site pointed to Israeli involvement in the incident.

"The sophisticated warplanes and weapons used in the attack are available to no country in the region except Israel; the radar systems of Khartoum airport were neutralized shortly ahead of the airstrike," he said according to the Kuwaiti news agency's report. 

Bashir has said his government intends to complain to the UN over the explosion. However, a Sudanese journalist told Haaretz that Sudan is merely paying lip service, since the country has no actual means of confronting Israel on the issue.

Senior analysts in the Arab world have characterized the alleged strike as a rehearsal aimed at sending Iran a clear message that Israel will not hesitate to strike distant targets.

The Yarmouk military complex in Khartoum, Sudan seen in a satellite image made on Oct. 25 2012.