Extremist group claims diplomat death

January 4, 2008 10:28:24 AM PST
A previously unknown militant group has claimed responsibility for the slaying of a U.S. diplomat in Sudan, a group that monitors extremist Web sites said Friday. The claim described by the SITE Intelligence Group could not be independently found on militant Web sites and there was no way to authenticate the statement by the group calling itself Ansar al-Tawhid, or Companions of Monotheism.

"The soldiers of Tawhid carried out an operation of killing the American diplomat and his Sudanese driver who sold his religion for few benefits of life, in the section of Al-Riyadh in eastern Khartoum," SITE's translation read.

John Granville, an official for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was being driven home around 4 a.m. Tuesday when his car was cut off by another vehicle and came under fire, according to the Sudanese Interior Ministry.

The diplomat's driver, Abdel-Rahman Abbas, was killed. Granville was hit by five bullets and died after surgery, the U.S. embassy said.

Sudanese officials insist the shooting was not a terrorist attack, but the embassy said it was too soon to determine the motive. U.S. and Sudanese officials investigating the shooting have not specified any suspects.

FBI investigators are in Khartoum working with Sudanese security agencies to investigate the attack, which was the first assassination of a U.S. diplomat in Sudan since 1973.

Al-Qaida has shown little overt presence in Sudan since the Sudanese government threw out Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s.

A group calling itself al-Qaida's branch in Sudan claimed responsibility last year for the slaying of a Sudanese editor accused by some of blasphemy over articles in his newspaper.

The Sudanese government said the claim was fake and that the editor was killed by Darfurians angry over the paper's coverage of the conflict in western Sudan.