U.S. diplomat is gunned down in Khartoum

Times Staff Writer

A U.S. diplomat and his driver were fatally shot early Tuesday in Khartoum, the capital of war-torn Sudan, U.S. officials said.

John Granville, 33, who grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., worked for the United States Agency for International Development. Reports indicated that Granville was shot four or five times while being driven home about 4 a.m., suffering wounds in the abdomen, hand and left shoulder. He died several hours later at a hospital, U.S. officials said.

The driver died at the scene from injuries in the shooting, according to SUNA, the Sudanese state news agency. USAID identified him as Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama, 39, a Sudanese national who worked for the agency.


Granville was part of a project to advance democratic practices in Sudan, according to USAID’s website.

“Africa became very special to John,” Granville’s family said in a statement. “John was part of a team trying to negotiate peace in Sudan.”

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said the attack on Granville was “an isolated incident which has no political connections,” according to Agence France-Presse. Sudanese officials said another car cut off Granville’s vehicle, the Associated Press reported. One or more assailants opened fire and then fled.

SUNA quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as expressing “deep regret” over Granville’s death and vowing to bring the assailants to justice. The government “would spare no efforts in providing security and protection to all foreign diplomats accredited in Sudan,” the spokesman said.

Karl Duckworth, a spokesman for the State Department, said it was too early to determine the cause of the attack and that officials were working with Sudanese authorities to investigate the incident.

The State Department in September warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Sudan, citing the fighting in the predominantly Sunni Muslim country’s Darfur region and the possibility of terrorist attacks.


The warning noted that U.S. officials had “received indications of terrorist threats aimed at American and Western interests in Sudan.” But the warning indicated that the threat was greater outside Khartoum.

The U.S. government has tried to pressure Sudan’s military regime to resolve the crisis in Darfur, where non-Arab rebels have been fighting the Khartoum government and Arab militias since 2003. In May, President Bush tightened sanctions against Sudan, and on Monday he signed legislation to restrict U.S. investment there.

But the CIA has worked with Sudan to collect intelligence on Al Qaeda’s presence in Iraq, and a State Department report last year called the country a “strong partner in the war on terror.”

Deaths of U.S. foreign affairs officials are infrequent, but at least 18 have been killed in the last 10 years while serving overseas, according to the American Foreign Service Assn., a professional group for diplomats. In Sudan in 1973, U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel Jr. and senior U.S. official George Curtis Moore were slain by Palestinian militants, and a USAID employee died in a car accident in Khartoum in 1981.

The attack on Granville and his driver came a day after an African Union-United Nations force took over peacekeeping duties in Darfur, in the country’s west. The conflict has killed an estimated 200,000 people and created a humanitarian crisis with at least 2 million people having had to flee their homes.

Granville was a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, where he helped build the first school in a rural village, his family said. He was a graduate of Fordham University and earned a masters degree in International Development and Social Change from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., in 2003.


USAID reopened its mission in Sudan in May 2006 after the signing of a peace agreement that ended a 21-year civil war between northern and southern Sudan.

Granville was a USAID democracy fellow as part of his work in Sudan. According to the USAID website, Granville’s project involved distributing radios to people in the southern part of Sudan to maximize the effect of the agency’s broadcasting initiatives. An undated photo on the site shows Granville smiling with a group of Sudanese people holding up radios.