Satellite images suggest Sudan arms factory was bombed: group

UNITED NATIONS Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:59pm EDT

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Analysis of satellite imagery of a Sudanese munitions factory that Khartoum accused Israel of bombing earlier this week suggests the site may have been hit with aerial bombardment as Sudan claims, a monitoring group said on Saturday.

The Satellite Sentinel Project, whose founders include Hollywood actor George Clooney and the Enough Project, said it conducted a comparative analysis of DigitalGlobe imagery of the arms factory in Khartoum, where a huge explosion on Tuesday killed two people and caused a large fire.

"The imagery shows six large craters, each approximately 16 meters across and consistent with impact craters created by air-delivered munitions, centered in a location where, until recently, some 40 shipping containers had been stacked," the group said a statement.

"An October 12 image shows the storage containers stacked next to a 60-meter-long shed," it said. "While (Sentinel) cannot confirm that the containers remained on the site on October 24, analysis of the imagery is consistent with the presence of highly volatile cargo in the epicenter of the explosions."

The images by themselves cannot be taken as clear evidence that the site was bombed and provides no clues as to who might have been responsible for any such bombardment.

A huge fire broke out late on Tuesday at the Yarmouk arms factory in the south of Khartoum, which was rocked by several explosions, witnesses said. Firefighters needed more than two hours to extinguish the fire at Sudan's main factory for ammunition and small arms.

Initially, the governor of Khartoum ruled out external causes of the fire. But Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman later told reporters that four military planes attacked the Yarmouk plant and Israel was behind it.

Israel neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the attack.

The poor Muslim East African state, with close ties to Iran and Sunni jihadis, has long been seen by Israel as a conduit for weapons smuggled to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, via the Egyptian Sinai desert.

It is not the first time Sudan has accused Israel of attacking it.

In May, Sudan's government said one person had been killed after a car exploded in the eastern city of Port Sudan. It said that explosion resembled a blast last year it had blamed on an Israeli missile strike.

Israel declined to comment on the May incident or the 2011 blast, which killed two people. It also neither admitted nor denied involvement in a similar incident in eastern Sudan in 2009.

The satellite images can be viewed at: here

(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Bill Trott)

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Comments (3)
Zaichik wrote:
Distribute arms for Iran (or anybody else) and go to hell, go directly to hell, do not pass go, do not collect. It’s time that surrogates learned that there’s a price to pay.

Oct 27, 2012 9:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Abulafiah wrote:
So it was yet another example of violent Israeli aggression from those peace loving Israelis.

Then they wonder why so much of the world despises them…

Oct 28, 2012 3:56am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Binary wrote:
Right, let’s think about this a bit, shall we?

The distance from Israel to Khartoum = 1,129 miles as the crow flies. The best Israeli Fighter Ground Attack (FGA) for this job is the F-15 Strike Eagle as it has a range of 790 miles when fully loaded and 1,150 miles when empty. So the Israeli strike force will have to re-fuel in-flight… at least once in, and once out – but in all likelihood twice on the inbound and once out.

Of course, these tankers cannot fly with the strike force – they are too slow. So they have to go ahead of the strike force and loiter. And since they are vulnerable (they are converted C-130 cargo craft, filled to the brim with kerosene), we do not want to re-fuel in opposed airspace. So they will have to hold station over the Red Sea, possibly over a point well north of Port Sudan. So we’re no longer going as the crow flies. We have to add to our total journey length. Only tiny little problem is that even from there, the F-15’s will be flying on vapors at some stage in Sudanese airspace… it’s a big ole piece of land. So at least one re-fueling station will have to be in Sudanese airspace itself.

However, the Sudanese field 2 squadrons of Mig-29 Fulcrums. Oops. Now it is not a good idea to leave a slow KC-130 tanker all by itself here… if it gets jumped, then the 4 F-15 Strike Eagles will also be lost – they will run out of fuel. So the KC-130 over Sudanese territory needs top-cover – let’s call that a further 4 F-15 Eagles. Of course these will need an AWACS – the Mig-29 is a very capable fighter. Naturally the Mig-29’s are not the only threat. Just about anything can bring that KC-130 down. So we’ll need a ‘wild weasel’ flight to suppress any ground-based radar. And then we need something to neutralise whatever is attached to that ground-based radar – perhaps another flight of FGA’s. But now the single tanker is no longer enough for this force… we now need two tankers – perhaps more.

Let’s do a check on our aircraft count: that is 4 * F-15 Strike Eagles, 2 * KC-130 tankers, 4 * F-15 Eagles to provide top cover, 1 * AWACS, say 2 * Wild Weasels, and another 4 * F-15 Strike Eagles. 17 Aircraft to take out 16 containers thought to be filled with weapons. Yes, I’ll buy that – it sounds legit. After all, the Sudanese said so and we know what knaves those Israelis are…

Oct 29, 2012 5:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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