An Israeli Air force F-15 jet refuels during an air show at
the graduation ceremony of Israeli pilots over the Hatzerim
Air Force base near Beer Sheva in southern Israel on December 30, 2010.
AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
The Sudanese authorities revealed on Tuesday that a Sonata vehicle was destroyed as a result of a foreign attack but offered conflicting accounts on whether it was carried out by planes or missiles fired from the Red Sea.
Multiple security sources told Sudan Tribune that the two men who were inside the car and killed instantly, had just arrived in town through Port Sudan airport.
Their identities however, remain unknown and the sources said that both men appear to have been under the careful watch of the party that carried out the attack throughout their stay in the country.
The Sudanese Media Center Website (SMC) which is widely believed to be run by the country’s security bureau, was the first to report the news saying that a foreign plane launched the attack at 9 pm local time (1800 GMT) in an area known as Kalaneeb which was described as 14 kilometers away from the coastal city of Port Sudan and on the main road leading to the regional airport.
It further reported that Sudanese ant-aircraft defenses responded with heavy fire forcing the plane to flee their airspace.
However, in the early morning hours of Wednesday SMC quoted the deputy Red Sea governor Salah Sir Al-Khitim Kenna as saying that no planes were involved and that it was only a missile fired against the target but did not elaborate.
Earlier today, the police issued a statement saying that a missile hit the car "from an unknown source" but added that it was likely fired from the Red Sea. It also gave a different time for when this took place saying it happened at 8:05 PM (17:05 GMT)
The confusion is exacerbated by separate remarks made by the deputy chairman of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in the Red Sea state Mohamed Tahir Hussein who said that eyewitnesses told him that a plane came from the Red Sea, hit the car and headed back.
Hussein added that "mystery" surrounds the identity of the attackers but he pointed fingers at Israel’s spy agency (Mossad) and suggested that the planes belongs to them and was tracking down arms smugglers.
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) declined to comment on the incident when contacted by Ynetnews based in Tel Aviv.
Sudan’s foreign ministry also declined to comment. Sudan’s army was not immediately available to comment.
A local MP by the name Mustafa Mandar had told SMC that the plane was following the vehicle until it came to an open area and sent bombs its way. He vehemently denied that Eastern Sudan has become a transit point for arms smuggling.
Some analysts speaking to Sudan Tribune speculated that this was an assassination plot against the two men who were in the car given its limited capacity to transport any significant amount of arms.
"We heard three loud explosions," a source at Port Sudan airport told Reuters. "We went outside to see what was happening and eye witnesses told us they saw two helicopters which looked liked Apaches flying past."
Two years ago it was disclosed that Israel carried out an unknown number of airstrikes in early 2009 in Eastern Sudan using fighter jets against a convoy of arms that was allegedly headed to the Gaza strip which is controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.
The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and other officials in Khartoum at the time acknowledged that Israel was likely behind the air raids which state media reported to have killed 119 illegal immigrants who were trying to sneak into Europe.
The Jewish state has declined to confirm or deny the reports on its involvement but the then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the government is "operating in every area in which terrorist infrastructures can be struck".
Last month, the Egyptian media quoting army sources said that it had shelled a convoy of vehicles laden with arms near the Sudanese border. No further details were given and Khartoum has reportedly asked for clarifications from Cairo.
In recent says Sudan has denied media reports on smuggling of weapons through Sudan to reach Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon.