KHARTOUM, Sudan — Israeli airstrikes caused an explosion and large fire at a military factory south of the capital, Khartoum, killing two people, Sudan's government spokesman claimed Wednesday.
Minister of Information Ahmed Belal Osman told reporters that four aircraft hit the Yarmouk Complex, setting off an explosion that rocked the capital before dawn.
"Four planes coming from the east bombed the Yarmouk industrial complex," Belal said. "They used sophisticated technology." He didn't elaborate further.
He said his country has the right to respond and may take the issue to the U.N. Security Council.
Belal referred to a 2009 attack on an arms convoy in the Red Sea province in eastern Sudan, which his government also blamed on Israel.
"We are now certain that this flagrant attack was authorized by the same state of Israel. The main purpose is to frustrate our military capabilities and stop any development there and ultimately weaken our national sovereignty," Belal said.
Israeli officials did not respond to requests for comment.
At the same news conference, military spokesman Sawarmy Khaled said two people were killed and another was seriously injured in the blast. Earlier, officials said some people suffered from smoke inhalation.
The powerful blast at the complex sent exploding ammunition flying through the air, causing panic among residents.
Residents told local newspapers that they saw planes flying overhead just before the explosion. The blast blew roofs off houses, shattered windows and set trees on fire.
Thick smoke blackened the sky over the complex, and firefighters fought the blaze for hours.
Sudanese activists on social media websites criticized the government for placing a factory with such large quantities of ammunition in a residential area.
Sudan's government has been at war with rebels in the western region of Darfur and with its neighbors in South Sudan, which broke away to become Africa's newest country in 2011.
Sudan was a major hub for al-Qaida militants and remains a transit for weapon smugglers and African migrant traffickers.
In 2009, a convoy carrying weapons in northeastern Sudan was targeted from the air, killing dozens. It was widely believed that Israel carried out the attack, hitting a weapons shipment headed for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Israel never confirmed or denied that. Sudanese parliamentarians denied that weapons were transported in the area.
The U.S. imposed economic, trade and financial sanctions against Sudan in 1997, citing the Sudanese government's support for terrorism, including its sheltering of al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden in Khartoum the mid-1990s.
In 1998, American cruise missiles bombed a Khartoum pharmaceutical factory suspected of links to al-Qaida. That followed the terror group's bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.
The Yarmouk weapons complex was built in the 1996. Sudan prided itself in having a way to produce its own ammunition and weapons despite international sanctions.
Yarmouk is one of two known state-owned weapons manufacturing facilities in the Sudanese capital.
Jonah Leff of the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey told The Associated Press that the location of the two factories is "certainly a hazard" to Khartoum's population if the weapons inside are not properly maintained or secured.
A September report from the Small Arms Survey said there was evidence from weapons packaging found in Darfur and in South Kordofan that arms and ammunition from China are exported to Yarmouk and then transported to the two embattled regions.
Leff said that although the Small Arms Survey has documented Sudanese military stocks of Iranian weapons and ammunition, there is no evidence that Iranian weapons are being assembled or manufactured in the two Khartoum factories.
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.