Sudanese government says coup plotters planned to kill three dozen top officials

Saturday, September 25th 2004, 10:42 am
By: News On 6

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ Sudanese authorities accused an opposition party Saturday of plotting to kill more than three dozen senior government officials and blow up key sites in the capital, where heavily armed troops were out in force for a second day.

The state news agency said the planned attacks were part of a coup plot for which some members of the opposition Popular Congress Party were arrested earlier this month.

Two army officers and an unspecified number of privates were among those arrested before plotters could launch a series of abductions and attacks that were to have begun at 2 p.m. Friday, the Sudan Media Center said. It said the officers allegedly turned over arms to the plotters.

The development comes as Sudan is under international pressure to end violence in the western Darfur region between non-Arab farmers and Arab nomads allegedly backed by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum. An estimated 50,000 people have died in the 19-month conflict.

Last weekend, the U.N. Security Council warned it would consider sanctions against Sudan's oil industry if the government did not act quickly to stop the violence.

Heavily armed soldiers and military police were posted at intersections and around military and government installations in Khartoum. Pedestrians crossing bridges were questioned and searched.

After an emergency Cabinet meeting Saturday, Information Minister Zahawe Ibrahim Malik said the plotters ``were planning to control the state-run radio, the TV and the headquarters of the Council of Ministers, and then arrest all the ministers and work to overthrow the government.''

President Omar el-Bashir did not attend the meeting, instead proceeding with a previously scheduled ceremony to inaugurate a public service project on the northern outskirts of Khartoum.

The Sudan Media Center said the plotters intended to abduct and kill at least 38 government leaders and blow up an unspecified number of vital installations.

``The concerned security organs have arrested most of the main leaders and the grass-roots participants in the planning, coordination and implementation of the plot,'' the agency said. It said the alleged leader of the plot, former Agriculture Minister Al-Hajj Adam Yusuf, was still being sought.

Malik said he could not give a figure for arrests thus far because they were continuing and included what he called ``precautionary arrests.''

Sudan's interior minister, Gen. Abdul Raheem Mohamed Hussein, told state-run Omdurman radio that security forces had seized weapons Saturday morning in a northern suburb of Khartoum. The radio quoted him as saying items seized included 300 Kalashnikov assault rifles plus ammunition, 27 mortars and numerous rocket-propelled grenades.

On Sept. 8, police arrested more than 30 Popular Congress Party members, alleging they were involved in a coup plot. The party's leader, Hassan Turabi, a former close associate of el-Bashir, has been in detention since police detained some party members earlier this year following another alleged coup plot.