Sudan reaches settlement with families of USS Cole victims

Sudan's justice ministry said Thursday that a settlement was reached for the families of U.S. Navy sailors killed and injured in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

The agreement was reached last week. The country is making an effort to be taken off the U.S. terrorism list.

The Al Qaeda attack killed 17 sailors and wounded 39 others. It was the deadliest attack against a navy vessel since 1987. Sudan was accused of providing the terror group with support.

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Authorities in Sudan's transitional government have been desperate to lift its designation as a state sponsor of terror the country has had had since 1993, with the hope this settlement will have them taken off the list. No details of the settlement were added besides their statement.

New leaders in Sudan said they aren't responsible for the attack and negotiated to settlement to get rid of old claims inherited by the previous regime of former president Omar al Bashir.

There was no immediate comment from Washington.

Sudan's information minister and interim government spokesman, Faisal Saleh, told The Associated Press that Justice Minister Nasr-Eddin Abdul-Bari had traveled last week to Washington to sign the deal that included compensations for both the wounded and those killed.

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He said the figures could not be disclosed because the government is still in the middle of negotiations to reach a similar settlement with families of victims of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

“Our lawyer advised us not to disclose the figures because that might affect our ongoing negotiations,” Saleh said.

In the terrorist attack, two men denoted a bomb outside the USS Cole while it was refueling at the port of Aden in Yemen.

A federal judge had awarded the victim's families nearly $315 million 12 years later, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision last March, saying Sudan had not been properly notified of the lawsuit.

The news comes as al-Bashir, 73, was indicted by Sudan's transitional authorities over his alleged role in crimes during the Darfur conflict.

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In the conflict, rebels had launched an insurgency in 2003, complaining of discrimination and oppression by the government of Sudan. Al-Bashir reportedly led a deadly scorched earth response to the insurgency that consisted of aerial bombings and a militia assault that killed up to 300,000 people and drove 2.7 million from their homes.

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A top Sudanese official indicated they plan to hand the former president over to the International Criminal Court to face trial for crimes against humanity and genocide, although it's not clear when that will happen.

Greg Norman and the Associated Press contributed to this report