KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan’s security chief has warned foreigners that “outlaws” might target them if President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was indicted for war crimes, state media reported on Sunday.
Sudan has been trying to stop a possible International Criminal Court arrest warrant against Bashir on charges of genocide in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Khartoum’s rule since 2003.
National Security director Salah Gosh’s statement is the latest of a series of warnings from government figures, who have also accused the United States, Britain and France of using the court to force concessions out of Khartoum.
“He highlights he could not predict what kind of reaction outlaws could undertake if ICC issues a resolution. He suspects they may possibly target some aliens,” the Sudanese Media Center quoted Gosh as telling a meeting of senior newspaper editors.
Gosh was quoted on Saturday as saying his agents had been in touch with militant organizations in Sudan but he stopped short of accusing Islamic extremists of planning the attacks.
His words were the most specific warning yet that foreigners and foreign organizations could bare the brunt of public anger after the court ruling, which is expected this month.
Western embassies and U.N. bases in Khartoum have increased security in recent months. The United States has urged its citizens in Sudan to keep a low profile.
Sudan’s state Suna news agency reported that Gosh accused the ICC’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of being a “political activist” against Sudan and said the court’s decision would be “political and not legal.”
Sudan’s state newspaper, Sudan Vision, quoted presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie as saying the ICC move “aims at toppling the Sudanese Government.”
And presidential adviser Ghazi Salaheddin was quoted as saying the government had worked out “a plan ... to confront the ICC,” without giving further details.
Last week, a senior official at Sudan’s foreign ministry said an arrest warrant against Bashir would encourage rebels in Darfur to launch new attacks on cities and oil fields.
Moreno-Ocampo asked ICC judges in July to issue their first arrest warrant against a sitting president, charging Bashir with orchestrating war crimes in Darfur.
International experts say 200,000 people have died since mostly non-Arab rebels in Darfur took up arms against the government in 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglecting the region.
Sudan’s government mobilized mostly Arab militias to crush the revolt. It denies accusations by Washington that its forces committed genocide during the counter-insurgency.
Editing by Elizabeth Piper