Suspected Israeli airstrike on a convoy in Sudan January 2009 killed 119 people
An airstrike on a convoy in Sudan this January, which Israel is suspected of having carried out, killed 119 people taking part in a people smuggling operation, Sudan's defence minister has told parliament.- - -
Sudan's state news agency SUNA Tuesday quoted Abdul-Rahim Hussein as telling lawmakers that 56 smugglers, as well as 63 people fleeing Ethiopia and Somalia died in the attack near Sudan's border with Egypt.
Unofficial casualty estimates released in March had put the number of dead at 39 people, riding in 17 trucks.
In his report, Gen Hussein said there were up to 1,000 people in the convoy involved in "a smuggling process at the border with Egypt", Suna reported.
Israel refused to confirm or deny reports it was involved in the airstrike, but shortly after the allegations surfaced in March, Premier Ehud Olmert said that "we hit terrorist infrastructures every place we can, near or far".
While not confirming Israel's role, BBC correspondents said the remark was seen as a heavy hint that Sudan's suspicions were accurate. Hussein said that the incident was still under investigation.
According to reports, Israeli intelligence had discovered that weapons were being trucked through Sudan, heading north towards Egypt, where they were to cross the Sinai Desert and be smuggled into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The airstrike came as Israel was engaged in a ferocious Gaza offensive.
Sudan forms part of a route along which weapons were smuggled into Gaza via a vast network of tunnels under the strip's border with Egypt. The route begins in Iran, which supports the radical Islamist Hamas in Gaza. It is said to pass through Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Egypt - going from the Persian Gulf around the Arabian Peninsula to the city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea, some 400 kilometres south of Egypt, dpa reports.
Just in, Snowmail from Channel 4 News UK: The Taliban turn on their Pakistani paymasters - detonating a huge suicide car bomb outside a key Pakistani Intelligence Service building. Dozens are dead, hundreds injured. [I'm watching Channel 4 news now, a Pakistani official appears to be implying that the US is among the Taliban's paymasters]