KHARTOUM (Reuters) - One person was killed when a car exploded in the eastern Sudanese city of Port Sudan on Tuesday in what the government said resembled a blast last year that it blamed on an Israeli missile strike.
An Israeli government spokesman declined to comment on the explosion in Sudan’s east, which analysts say is used as an arms smuggling route to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip via neighbouring Egypt.
Yigal Palmor, spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, told Reuters: “I’m not going to respond to generic allegations.”
A local journalist in the Red Sea port said he saw two small but deep holes near a gutted car and another hole beneath it. Photographs from the scene showed blood splashed on the road.
Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti, the highest level official yet to comment on the blast, stopped short of directly blaming Israel, but said the explosion looked similar to an April, 2011 attack Khartoum blamed on an Israeli missile strike.
“The style of the car explosion was similar to Israel’s attack on Red Sea state (in 2011),” he told the pro-government al-Shorooq television station, according to its website. A foreign ministry spokesman confirmed the remarks.
Israel, which Sudan considers an enemy state, declined to comment on the 2011 blast that killed two people, and neither admitted nor denied a similar attack in eastern Sudan in 2009.
A local security source in Port Sudan said the car’s driver was a prominent member of the Ababda tribe known for smuggling weapons and goods. Port Sudan is the country’s main port.
State news agency SUNA said a team of experts would be sent to investigate the explosion, and identified the dead driver as trader Nasser Awadallah Ahmed Said, 65.
Spokesmen for Sudan’s police and armed forces were not immediately available for comment.
Sudan denies allowing illegal weapon shipments across its territory, but analysts say smugglers bring in weapons through the country’s east, then route them through Egypt’s Sinai desert and into the Gaza Strip.
Reporting by Ulf Laessing, Alexander Dziadosz and El-Tayeb Siddig in Khartoum and by Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Editing by Michael Roddy