March 24, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese government today acknowledged news reports that US air force conducted airstrikes against arm smugglers last January killing scores of people.
The Egyptian Al-Shurooq newspaper reported this week that US planes destroyed a convoy heading towards the borders carrying arms believed to be on its way to Gaza strip.
The report said that the convoy consisted of 17 trucks carrying 39 passengers that were all destroyed in the operation. None of the people on board the trucks survived the attack.
The Sudanese state minister for highways Mabrouk Mubarak Saleem told reporters at a press conference in the Eastern city of Kassala near Eritrea that a “major power bombed small trucks carrying arms burring all of them”.
“It killed Sudanese, Eritreans and Ethiopians [passengers] and injured others” Saleem said.
The attack is believed to have occurred in a desert area in Northwest of Port Sudan city, near the Mount Al-Sha’anoon.
The newspaper quoted an unidentified Egyptian official as saying that the planes that carried out the attack were based out of many regional countries, suggesting that it is likely to be Djibouti.
The official said that the airstrike caused an “embarrassment” to Khartoum which viewed it as a “violation to its sovereignty” and discussed the matter with Cairo in an effort to gather more information to formulate a response.
Al-Shurooq also said that Sudanese authorities conducted “a full blown dossier” on the attack containing images, forensics and remains of weapons and satellite phones.
The rockets fired by US gunships left 18-hole diameters ranging between 160 and 430 meters, the newspaper reported.
Israeli officials in the past have said that arms are funneled into Sudan and then to Sinai, where they pass through the tunnels into Gaza.
The US signed an agreement with Israel last January that calls for an international effort to stem the flow of weaponry and explosives to complement those of Egypt.
American and Israeli diplomats said at the time the agreement includes intelligence coordination to prevent arms from Iran from entering Gaza, maritime efforts to identify ships carrying weaponry, and the sharing of US and European technologies to discover and prevent the use of weapons-smuggling tunnels.