A British engineer who worked at the factory in Sudan attacked by the United States last week told Sunday's Observer newspaper that it was not used to make chemical weapons.

"I have intimate knowledge of that factory and it just does not lend itself to the manufacture of chemical weapons," Tom Car-naf-fin, who worked as technical manager for the plant's owners between 1992 and 1996, told the Observer."Unless there have been some radical changes in the last few months, it (the factory) just isn't equipped to cope with the demands of chemical weapon manufacturing," Carnaffin said.

The United States launched missile attacks on Thursday against what it said were "terrorist" targets in Afghanistan and Sudan after U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed.

It said the El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries factory in north Khartoum was making a chemical needed to manufacture a deadly nerve gas and was linked to Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden.

Carnaffin said the factory's owners, the Baaboud family, were in the process of selling it to a Saudi Arabian. He said the Baabouds were devastated by the attack. "People who they knew personally have been killed - it is very upsetting," Car-naf-fin said.

The Observer also quoted an independent film maker from Belfast who said he visited the plant last year while making a promotional video for Sudan's ambassador to London.

"I was allowed to wander about quite freely. This is a perfectly normal chemical factory with the things you would expect - stainless steel vats and technicians," Irwin Armstrong said.