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Sudan Demands US Apology, Compensation for 1998 Plant Attack

A leading member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) told VOA Sudanese are still angry over the 1998 U.S. bombing of the El-Shifa pharmaceutical manufacturing plant thought to be linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist group.

Rabie Abdulatti Obeid denied the pharmaceutical plant was manufacturing chemical weapons for the terrorist group.

“Actually, the bombing of our pharmaceutical plant previously by the United States was actually taken as a wrong action because that pharmaceutical plant [produced] only medicine for poor people here in Sudan, and sometimes we export the surplus of medicine to the neighboring countries… we considered what happened as a political pressure [on our] government,” he said.

This comes after the U.S Appeals Court Tuesday upheld the dismissal of a $50 million lawsuit against the United States over President Bill Clinton's missile attack order on the plant.

Owners of the El-Shifa pharmaceutical plant argued that the United States failed to pay any compensation after unjustifiably destroying it, which they claim was solely used to produce medicine for Sudan’s poor. They also said Washington defamed them by linking their pharmaceutical plant to a terrorist organization.

A federal judge had earlier dismissed the lawsuit, but the plant owners appealed the ruling.

While in office, President Clinton said the El-Shifa pharmaceutical plant, located north of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, was believed to be associated with Osama bin Laden's terrorist group which produced materials for chemicals weapons.

President Clinton ordered the strike in retaliation for the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania), which was carried out by al-Qaida-linked terrorists.

But, NCP official Obeid said Washington should apologize and pay compensation to both the owners of the plant as well as the government of Sudan.

“The people of Sudan are still very angry from that action and this will not be forgotten by this generation or the coming generation because it will be recorded in the register of history for Sudan people and for the people of the whole African continent and the Arab world,” Obeid said.