Chemistry prof 'led' Sudan militant camp: official
By Simon Martelli | AFP
December 4, 2012

A chemistry professor allegedly led a group of Sudanese Islamic extremists who ran a training camp which security forces raided on the weekend, a state governor said on Monday.

"The leader of the group has a PhD in chemistry. He is well-known to the intelligence service and was detained before," Ahmed Abbas, the governor of Sinnar state in southeast Sudan, told government-owned Blue Nile TV.

He refused to identify the suspect.

Abbas said 24 people have now been arrested after security forces fought their way into the camp inside Dinder National Park, a vast wildlife preserve which straddles three Sudanese states including Sinnar, and also borders Ethiopia.

Two alleged extremists were killed and four police wounded during the two-day operation which ended on Sunday against the militants, who earlier stole weapons from park police, he said.

Authorities seized satellite telephones and laptop computers from the camp, which was powered by a generator, Abbas added.

"Everyone is still in shock that such a thing existed... They're all educated people," a Sudan analyst said of the suspects.

Authorities have been "very cautious about telling anything" about the incident, added the analyst, who asked for anonymity.

The raid came shortly after Sudan called in November for serious talks with the United States about ending sanctions and removing Khartoum from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Then-president Bill Clinton imposed the trade restrictions in 1997 over Sudan's support for international terrorism, efforts to destabilise neighbouring governments, and human rights violations.

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 the American sanctions.

Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan last year by US special forces.

US President Barack Obama extended the trade embargo last month.

The US State Department continues to list Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism but, in a July report, it said Khartoum was "a cooperative counter-terrorism partner" in 2011.

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. - An African-American news and views website.
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