Image: John Granville
Courtesy of the Granville family
John Granville is seen in an undated photo with his mother.
updated 1/4/2008 2:41:32 PM ET 2008-01-04T19:41:32

A previously unknown militant group claimed responsibility on a militant Web site for the slaying  of a U.S. diplomat in Sudan on New Year's Day, according to an intelligence group monitoring extremist groups.

"We can't authenticate this communique, which is posted by a member of the forum, but at the same time, because there is a claim of responsibility, we chose to send it out to our subscribers," Rita Katz told The Associated Press. Katz is the director of monitoring institute, SITE Intelligence Group.

Katz added that she had never heard of the group before. The group calls itself Ansar al-Tawhid (Companions of Monotheism) and is a fairly generic-sounding name for an Islamic extremist organization, according to SITE.

"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," read the translation provided by SITE.

Killed on New Year's Day
John Granville, an official for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was being driven home at about 4 a.m. Tuesday when another vehicle cut off his car and opened fire before fleeing the scene, according to the Sudanese Interior Ministry.

The diplomat's driver, Abdel-Rahman Abbas, was also killed. Granville, who was hit by five bullets but initially survived, died after surgery, said the embassy.

Sudanese officials insist the shooting was not a terrorist attack, but the U.S. Embassy said it was too soon to determine the motive.

"The investigation is still ongoing, and there is an FBI diplomatic security team here to assist the embassy and is working closely with Sudanese authorities and we hope for concrete facts soon," said embassy spokesman Walter Braunohler when asked about the claim.

First incident since 1973
This is the first assassination of a U.S. diplomat in Sudan since 1973.

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

Last year, for the first time, a group calling itself al-Qaida's branch in Sudan claimed responsibility for the slaying of a Sudanese newspaper editor accused by some of blasphemy over articles run in his paper.

But 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.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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