Sudan Accuses Israel of Bombing Khartoum Military Factory, Threatens Retaliationإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Sudan on Wednesday accused Israel of bombing a military factory and threatened retaliation after the attack that killed two people.
"We think Israel did the bombing," Culture and Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman told a news conference.
"We reserve the right to react at a place and time we choose."
He said four aircraft were involved in the attack, which occurred at about midnight (2100 GMT) Tuesday at the Yarmouk military manufacturing facility in south Khartoum.
Evidence pointing to Israel was found among remnants of the explosives, he said.
The foreign ministry of Israel, which has long accused Khartoum of serving as a base for militants from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, refused to comment.
Earlier on Wednesday, residents said an aircraft or missile flew over the factory shortly before it exploded and burst into flames, but a top official had dismissed their comments.
An Agence France Presse reporter several kilometers (miles) away saw two or three fires flaring across a wide area, with heavy smoke and intermittent flashes of white light bursting above the state-owned facility.
"I heard a sound like a plane in the sky, but I didn't see any light from a plane. Then I heard two explosions, and fire erupted in the compound," said an area resident who asked to be identified only as Faize.
Witnesses said the explosions started at about midnight on Tuesday.
A woman living south of the Yarmouk compound also reported two initial blasts.
"I saw a plane coming from east to west and I heard explosions and there was a short length of time between the first one and the second one," she said, asking not to be named.
"Then I saw fire and our neighbor’s house was hit by shrapnel, causing minor damage. The windows of my own house rattled after the second explosion."
Abdul Rahman al-Khider, the governor of Khartoum state, told official media that preliminary investigation found that the explosion happened in a store room.
He dismissed speculation that "other reasons" caused the incident.
Khider said some people were hospitalized because of smoke inhalation but he gave no numbers.
Army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad was quoted by the state's SUNA news agency as saying the fire occurred at an ammunition facility in the Yarmouk complex.
The blaze spread to a neighboring area of grass and trees, he said, adding that an investigation was underway to find the cause.
In 1998 Human Rights Watch said that a coalition of Sudanese opposition groups had alleged that Sudan stored chemical weapons for Iraq at the Yarmouk facility but government officials strenuously denied the charges.
In August of that year United States cruise missiles struck the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in North Khartoum, which the U.S. said was linked to chemical weapons production. Evidence for that claim later proved questionable.
A source familiar with the Yarmouk factory said its main compound and storage area had not been damaged by the explosions or fire.
Hannan, a resident who gave only one name, said some people had fled the area on foot because of the early-morning explosions, while others put their children in cars ready to make a getaway.
The fires appeared to be extinguished by 03:30 am (0030 GMT), more than three hours after they began, an AFP reporter said.
There have been other mysterious blasts in Sudan.
On the country's Red Sea coast in May 2011 one person was killed when a car exploded, about a year after Sudan blamed Israel for an air strike on a vehicle in the same area. Witnesses to the May incident said they heard a big blast that set the car ablaze and left two holes in the ground.
In January 2009, foreign aircraft struck a truck convoy reportedly laden with weapons in eastern Sudan.
A September report from the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based independent research project, said evidence from weapons packaging suggests that Chinese-origin arms and ammunition are exported to the Yarmouk facility.
From there they have subsequently moved to Sudan's far-west Darfur region which has been plagued by conflict for almost a decade, the report said.
Small Arms Survey said it was not clear whether Yarmouk served simply as a recipient "or whether they repackage or even assemble the Chinese-made weapons."
Khartoum is seeking the removal of United States sanctions imposed in 1997 over support for international terrorism, its human rights record and other concerns.