US aid agency official and driver are shot dead in Sudanese capital

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A US diplomat was shot to death along with his driver in the Sudanese capital early yesterday. Sudanese officials said the slaying was not terror-related, but the US Embassy said it was too early to say the motive.

The shooting came a day after a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force took over control in Darfur, Sudan's war-torn western region. Al-Qa'ida leaders, including Osama bin Laden, have called for a "jihad" or holy war, in Sudan against the peacekeepers in past messages.

But there was no immediate indication the attack was linked to those calls. Al-Qa'ida has shown little overt presence in the country in recent years since the Sudanese government threw out bin Laden in the late 1990s.

The attack was unusual in Khartoum. The Sudanese government often drums up anti-Western sentiment in media, but violence against foreigners is rare and Westerners can even be seen some mornings jogging along the Nile.

The US diplomat a humanitarian aid official identified by his family as John Granville was driving in the Al-Riyadh neighborhood of the capital at around 4 am when another vehicle intercepted his landcruiser, the Sudanese Interior Ministry said.

Gunmen in the car opened fire on Granville's vehicle before fleeing the scene, the ministry said in a statement. His Sudanese driver, 40-year-old Abdel-Rahman Abbas, was killed and Granville was shot in his hand, shoulder and belly. He underwent surgery but died, the ministry said.