Sudan arms factory blast: Khartoum to report Israel to UN

Fire engulf the Yarmouk ammunition factory in Khartoum 24 October 2012 Soldiers blocked roads to the factory in Khartoum

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Sudan has said it intends to complain to the UN over an explosion at an arms factory that it claims was caused by an Israeli air strike.

Sudan's UN envoy Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said Israel had violated Sudanese air space three times in recent years.

The Sudanese have not revealed any evidence to support their claim, and Israel has not commented.

Sudanese sources told the BBC that the arms factory was believed to have been operated by the Iranians.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus says the factory is thought to have manufactured rockets and other munitions for Iran to transfer weapons to Hamas by an overland route.

Analysis

There is much that we don't know about the alleged Israeli air strike on the Khartoum factory. Indeed there may be much that we may never know.

Short of an Israeli admission, which is unlikely, or some hard physical evidence like fragments of munitions that can be identified, it may be impossible to say with any certainty that Israel was involved.

But the balance of probability suggests that Sudan's claims should be taken seriously. The Sudan raid appears to be yet another episode in the shadowy war being waged by Israel and Iran over arms supplies to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Israelis believe there is a well-used smuggling route running northwards to Egypt, into Sinai and then on to the Gaza Strip.

Leaked US state department documents three years ago also suggested that Sudan was secretly supplying Iranian arms to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

So Israel might have felt that stopping the arms flow at its source in Sudan was better than taking action that could upset Egypt, our correspondent adds.

Although Israel has not commented on the incident, one defence official told army radio on Wednesday that Sudan was a "dangerous terrorist state".

"The regime is supported by Iran and it serves as a route for the transfer, via Egyptian territory, of Iranian weapons to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists," said Amos Gilad, a senior official at the defence ministry, in comments reported by the AFP news agency.

In April 2011, Khartoum held Israel responsible for an air strike that killed two people in a car near the city of Port Sudan.

Israel was also blamed for a strike on a convoy in north-eastern Sudan in 2009.

Israel did not comment on either incident.

In the latest incident fire engulfed the Yarmouk arms factory in the capital Khartoum late on Tuesday.

Residents reported seeing aircraft or missiles overhead before a number of explosions.

Sudanese politicians have reacted angrily, with the speaker of parliament suggesting that Israel had declared war.

State media reported Mr Daffa-Alla as saying the alleged attack was a major threat to regional and international peace.

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