Sudan arrests 41 people who have enough explosives to 'destroy' Khartoum

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Sudan has arrested dozens people who had enough explosives to “destroy” the capital Khartoum, the country’s attorney general said on Wednesday.

Taj Al Hebr did not say when the arrests were made or whether the 41 arrested belonged to any terrorist groups.

Mr Al Hebr said the explosives included ammonium nitrate, the chemical that caused the massive explosion that ripped through the Lebanese capital of Beirut on August 4.

That blast killed nearly 200 people, wounded more than 6,500 and devastated several districts in the city.

Beirut blast in pictures

A helicopter puts out a fire at the scene of the explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut on August 4, 2020. AFP

Smoke billows from an area of a large explosion that rocked the harbour area of Beirut, Lebanon. EPA

The aftermath of blast in Beirut. Sunniva Rose / The National

The scene of the explosion that rocked Beirut. AFP

The harbour area with smoke billowing from an area of the explosion, Beirut, Lebanon. EPA

A man reacts at the scene of an explosion at the port in Lebanon's capital Beirut. AFP

The scene of the explosion at the port in Beirut. AFP

The scene of the explosion at the port in Beirut. AFP

The scene of the explosion in Beirut. AFP

People gather near the scene of the explosion in Beirut. AFP

The scene of the blast in Beirut. AFP

The scene of the explosion in Beirut. AFP

A wounded man is checked by a fireman near the scene of the explosion in Beirut. AFP

A resident stands in the street by a destroyed car, following the explosion near by at the port of Beirut. Bloomberg

Smoke rises after the explosion was heard in Beirut. Reuters

Firefighters spray water at a blaze after the explosion in Beirut. Reuters

People walk at scene of the explosion in Beirut. AFP

The blast at Beirut port. Twitter/ @borzou

Army personnel around entrance to port.

The aftermath of the blast in Beirut. Sunniva Rose / The National

The aftermath of the blast in Beirut. Sunniva Rose / The National

The aftermath of the blast in Beirut. Sunniva Rose / The National

The aftermath of blast in Beirut. Sunniva Rose / The National

Sailors leave their damaged ship near the explosion in Beirut. AP Photo

A vehicle stands damaged on a road following a large explosion at the port area of Beirut. Bloomberg

Firefighters try to extinguish flames after a large explosion rocked the harbour area of Beirut. EPA

People and journalists gather at the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut. AFP

An injured man sits outside American University of Beirut medical centre on August 5, 2020. Reuters

Men stand before wrecked buildings near the port. Getty Images

A man walks by an overturned car and destroyed buildings. Getty Images

Lebanese soldiers stand outside American University of Beirut medical centre. Reuters

Injured people stand after the explosion. AP Photo

People gather by cars destroyed following an explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut. AFP

Wounded people wait to receive treatment outside a hospital following an explosion near the Beirut port. AFP

Jamal Jumaa, spokesman of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, said the arrests were made after an intelligence-gathering operation on terrorist groups began last month.

“This is a threat to Sudanese national security,” Mr Jumaa told AFP.

"We fear now that some Sudanese people will resort to carrying out sabotage and bombings.”

Suspicion immediately fell on religious hardliners loyal to the regime of ousted leader Omar Al Bashir.

In March, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok survived an assassination attempt in which his convoy hit an explosive device before gunmen opened fire.

Mr Hamdok escaped the attack unharmed.

Sudan’s transitional government this month announced its intention to enshrine the separation of religion and state in the country’s next constitution.

The issue is a key demand of rebel groups fighting the government in the south and west of the country.

Since the removal of Al Bashir in April 2019, Sudan has moved to dismantle the legacy of the autocrat’s 29-year rule.

It lifted a ban on the sale of alcohol to non-Muslims, ended capital punishment for apostasy and threw out the public dress code for women.

Al Bashir has been convicted of corruption and sentenced in December to two years in a detention facility.

He is also facing charges linked to the shooting and killing of protesters during street demonstrations against his rule in late 2018 and early 2019.

Al Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity during the 2000s.

In that time, government forces suppressed a rebellion by ethnic Africans demanding an end to discrimination and a larger share of national resources.

Analysts have repeatedly warned in the past that hardcore Al Bashir loyalists could stage terrorist attacks to avenge his removal and to try to stop the ethnically and religiously diverse nation from embracing secularism.

Sudan under Al Bashir was a haven for militants in the 1990s, including the late leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden.

His government was also linked to high-profile terror attacks, including those on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, in 2000.

The transitional administration is in talks with the US to settle compensation claims related to the attacks and allow Sudan to be removed from Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

But on Wednesday, Mr Jumaa said that if some groups in the country tried to transfer explosives to neighbouring states, it would undermine the government’s efforts.

Even being removed from the US blacklist, "we fear that we will once again be classified as a state sponsor of terrorism", he said.

Updated: September 17, 2020 02:05 AM

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