KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A Sudanese man stabbed and then shot two security guards Saturday outside the presidential palace in the capital Khartoum, prompting a return of fire killed him, in an attack the military spokesman described as non-political.
Col. Sawarmi Khalid told The Associated Press that the attack started when the man argued with the guards outside the palace because he wanted to pass into a secured area.
When the guards prevented him from passing, Khalid said, the man stabbed a guard with a sharp object, then seized a rifle and started firing. The shooting left two guards dead, and prompted others to return fire and shoot the man, Khalid said. The semi-official Sudan Media Center website said the unidentified man approached palace guards with a knife, stabbing one and snatching his weapon, before opening fire at the same guard and another.
Presidential spokesman Emad Sid Ahmed confirmed the attack to the state news agency SUNA.
Khalid said the man, a native of conflict-riddled Kordofan province, had no known political affiliation. He described him as "mentally unstable." Rebels in south Kordofan, along the border with South Sudan, are fighting the central government.
"All investigations show that he is mentally unstable. He has no political affiliation and is uneducated," said Khalid. "There were no repercussions to the attack and no subsequent gatherings outside the palace. Police were deployed to prevent any impact or disturbance."
Khalid said President Omar al-Bashir was not in the palace and further security was deployed after the shooting.
Al-Bashir came to power in a 1989 coup. He announced last month he plans to run for office again next year.
The Sudan Media Center website said the heavy shooting caused panic in the area, leading nearby shop owners to close their businesses. An Associated Press reporter at the scene after the shooting said traffic had returned to normal.
Sarah El Deeb in Cairo contributed to this report