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Africa
Jets 'bombed convoy in Sudan'
Sudanese minister accuses US over alleged deadly raids, but other reports blame Israel.
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2009 04:43 GMT

Salim said the air raids were launched from the
US fleet in the Red Sea

A Sudanese minister has told Al Jazeera that the US launched two air raids in the country earlier this year.

Mabrouk Mubarak Salim, the state minister for highways, said on Thursday that Sudanese, Somalis, Ethiopians, and Eritreans were killed in the attacks in January and February.

The attacks targeted a number of vehicles in the desert near the eastern city of Port Sudan, Salim said.

Photos released by a Sudanese intelligence source to Al Jazeera show what is said was  the aftermath of the attacks.

More than 50 people received treatment at a hospital in the town of Kassala after the raids, which were launched from the US fleet in the Red Sea, Salim said.

However, Deng Alor, the Sudanese foreign minister, said in Egypt on Wednesday that he had no knowledge of any such air raid.

"We have no information about such an attack," he said.

'Israel involved'

The US-based CBS network reported similar attacks on Wednesday, but said its sources had told David Martin, its Pentagon reporter, that Israeli aircraft were involved. 

 
CBS said that the jets were targeting weapons convoys heading through Sudan on their way to Egypt, where they would have been taken across the Sinai into the Gaza Strip. 

"Sudan used to provide Hamas with weapons, but that is not the case any more," Alor said.

Salim said that the air raids hit human-traffickers travelling through the desert area and the only weapons in the convoys were small arms being carried by guards.

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, spoke about such attacks on Thursday at a conference near Tel Aviv.

"Anywhere we can harm the infrastructure of terrorism, in near-by locations as well as far-away locations, we will act," he said.

Vince Crawley, the chief public affairs spokesman for United States Africa Command (Africom), said: "The United States military did not engage in any air, missile or combat operations during the time frame in question in Sudan.

"Nor has the US military engaged in any military operation in the region since the US Africa Command was established in October 2008."

'Low supplies'

Ronen Bergman, an Israeli investigative journalist, told Al Jazeera that his Israeli and US sources backed up the CBS take on events.

IN VIDEO

Al Jazeera video grab

Aftermath of deadly 'air raid' in Sudan
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Bergman said that weapons are smuggled to Gaza either from Syria by sea to the Sinai peninsula or from Iran via Sudan.

"The last operation executed by the Israeli military forces in the Gaza Strip has caused Hamas to lose quite a lot of its arsenal and, therefore, to request for more and more supplies from Iran," Bergman said.

"Some of those supplies were intercepted in that alleged raid by the Israeli air force."

Neither the US, which has troops based in the African state of Djibouti, nor Israel has commented on the alleged incident.

Israel fought a 22-day war in Gaza which ended when it declared a unilateral halt to military operations on January 18.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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