Sudan says anti-air defences engaged target, deny attack

KHARTOUM, May 6 (Reuters) - Sudan's anti-aircraft defences shot at an unidentified object that crossed the sky near Khartoum late on Tuesday, the army said, denying that explosions heard in the capital were related to an attack or coup attempt.

Residents of Omdurman, part of greater Khartoum, told Reuters they had heard at least one explosion around 2200 local time coming from north of the Khartoum metropolitan area.

"The anti-air defences in the Wadi Sidna military zone confronted a bright target late last night," a statement on the Sudanese armed forces website quoted spokesman Colonel Sawarmi Khaled Saad as saying.

"The official spokesman would like to reassure citizens that the situation is fully under control, denying reports that there was an alleged coup attempt, or military clashes or external attack."

Sudan faces insurgencies in the western region of Darfur and along its border with South Sudan, though the rebels are not believed to have air capabilities.

It has blamed Israel for such attacks in the past, including an air strike in 2012 that caused a huge explosion and fire at an arms factory in Khartoum, but Israel has either refused to comment or said it neither admitted nor denied involvement.

A senior military source said that, in Tuesday's incident, two missiles followed by artillery were fired towards a "an unidentified flying object".

"Nothing has yet been found ...The search is still ongoing at the site," he added.

The insurgents tried to derail voting in conflict-hit areas of the country for an election in April that extended by five years the quarter-century rule of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Most opposition parties boycotted the poll. (Reporting by Maaz Al-Nugomi; writing by Shadi Bushra; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and John Stonestreet)

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