Two dead, 20 held in Sudan raid on 'extremist' camp
Two people were killed and more than 20 arrested in a raid on an Islamist training camp in Sudan, which wants a lifting of US sanctions over its alleged support for terrorism, a state governor said Sunday.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012
"Over the last two days, up until this morning, security services and police attacked them in their training camp, killing two, while four police were wounded," Ahmed Abbas, the governor of Sinnar state in south-east Sudan, told AFP.
"They arrested more than 20 of them, including the leaders of the group, one of whom is well-known to the security services." He said the Islamist extremists, from a group which he did not identify, had set up camp inside Dinder National Park, a vast wildlife preserve which straddles three Sudanese states including Sinnar, and also borders Ethiopia. More than a month ago the militants attacked park police and stole weapons from them, Abbas said.
"They had taken advantage of the rainy season in the park, which made it difficult for vehicles to enter, while the high grass made it easier for them to hide," Abbas said.
Osman Ebrahim, the head of a district government in the park area, earlier Sunday said Sudanese security forces had clashed with the extremists, but he had no details. "I cannot say much because those people are now under investigation," Ebrahim said. Police said they would issue a statement later.
In the early 1990s, Sudan became a notorious refuge for militant Islamists, including al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who was based in the country from 1991 to 1996, leading to American sanctions.
Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by US special forces last year. US President Barack Obama extended a trade embargo for another year last month, saying Khartoum's actions "continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
Then-president Bill Clinton imposed the trade restrictions in 1997 over Sudan's alleged support for international terrorism, efforts to destabilise neighbouring governments, and human rights violations.
The US State Department continues to list Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism but, in a July report, it said Khartoum was "a co-operative counter-terrorism partner" last year. Except for the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which rules Gaza, the Khartoum government "does not openly support the presence of terrorist elements within its borders," the report said.