Sudan held coup plot Plotters
Tanks, armoured vehicles and troops were seen advancing past the international airport and towards government buildings along one of the main boulevards in the capital, Khartoum, in the early hours of Thursday morning.
It was not clear if they were ordered onto the streets by mutineers or were under the command of the security services.
By sunrise, the National Security and Intelligence Service (NSIS) reported that it had “frustrated an attempt to sabotage the country’s security led by personalities in the opposition”.
More than a dozen people, including Saleh Gosh, the former NSIS director, and other army and security commanders, had been arrested, Ahmed Belal Osman, Sudan’s information minister, said.
He accused them of “inciting chaos”, “targeting” state leaders and spreading rumours about the health of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president, who recently returned from a minor operation on his throat in Saudi Arabia.
It was the second time he had left Sudan for medical procedures in four months, raising speculations over his health.
Mr Bashir, 68, wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur, is struggling to contain growing frustrations among Sudanese citizens.
On several occasions this year, they have taken to the streets to protest that 40 per cent inflation is pushing the price of staple foods beyond many families.
Demonstrations have been violently quelled, and opposition activists report being arrested and tortured.
There were suggestions that Thursday’s apparent foiled coup could have been a sham to divert attention from Mr Bashir’s domestic policy difficulties.
Farouk Abu Issa, spokesman for the opposition parties, told the French news agency AFP that he had heard about the plot allegation, but added, “I think it is fake”.
He said the opposition supports democratic, peaceful change through strikes and demonstrations against Mr Bashir’s 23-year Islamist rule. He came to power in a bloodless coup in 1989.
Sudan has suffered seven coups or attempted coups since independence from Britain in 1956.