Sudanese officials have confiscated 72 crates of weapons that arrived by air from Ethiopia and were suspected of being used in “crimes against the state” according to local sources.
The firearms, according to Ethiopian Airlines, were hunting rifles that were part of a legal, certified cargo. According to these local sources, the cargo is being investigated by a committee tasked with dissolving former President Omar al-Bashir’s government, which was ousted in April 2019 following a popular revolt. According to the commission, the weapons landed in Ethiopia from Moscow in May 2019.
According to local sources, the committee did not rule out the possibility that the guns were destined for former al-Bashir government loyalists who Sudanese authorities accuse of attempting to destabilize the country’s fragile democratic transition. Weapons and night-vision goggles were among the items in the crates, which arrived on an Ethiopian Airlines commercial flight.
“There are suspicions that these weapons were intended to be used in crimes against the state, hindering the democratic transition and preventing the transition to the civil state,” Sudanese officials said.
In a statement, Ethiopian Airlines claimed that the guns were confiscated in Addis Ababa for a lengthy time for verification, and that the consignee, who was not named, had sued the airline in a Sudanese court, requesting the guns be delivered and that the airline pays $250,000 in compensation. The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Dina Mufti, did not respond to a request for comment.
Due to a spillover of the violence in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray area and Ethiopia’s construction of a massive hydropower project on the Blue Nile, tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia have been running high. The Tigray war has displaced tens of thousands of people in eastern Sudan and sparked military clashes in a contested farming area along the border between the two countries.