Israel said to be behind mystery airstrikes on Sudan
March 29, 2009 5 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Sudanese government officials revealed on Tuesday that Sudanese territory was hit thrice by foreign warplanes last January and February, killing hundreds. The airstrikes appeared to target convoys travelling in Sudan’s desert coastal region near Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast. The revelation was confirmed on Thursday by Fatih Mahmoud Awad, an official at Sudan’s Ministry of Transport, who claimed that the three airstrikes destroyed dozens of vehicles and killed “as many as 800 people”. Shortly afterwards, an Associated Press report cited Ali Youssef, a Sudanese official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who confirmed Awad’s revelations, but refused to speculate on the exact number of casualties. Interestingly, the Sudanese government did not disclose the airstrikes at the time, probably because it “was embarrassed to acknowledge that its sovereignty and air space could be violated so easily”, according to one observer. The question is who was behind the attacks. On Thursday, Sudan’s Transport Minister, Mubarak Mabrook Saleem, said he believed the warplanes were American, but the US Pentagon immediately denied any involvement. Several insiders have noted that Sudan’s Red Sea coastal region features several routes through which people and weapons are routinely smuggled into Egypt. On Wednesday, CBS News said one of its national security correspondents had been told that the airstrikes were carried out by Israel, based on intelligence that the targeted convoys were transporting arms into Egypt, which were ultimately destined for the Gaza strip. The weapons connection was also indirectly drawn by an anonymous Egyptian security official, who told the Associated Press that “a weapons deal for Gaza was foiled before it reached Egypt”. Speaking at an academic conference, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to confirm or deny Israel’s role in the airstrikes. He said Israel “operate[s] everywhere we can hit terror infrastructure [...] in close places and in places farther away”.