Walter Braunohler is a public diplomacy officer at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.
My wife and I woke up on New Year’s Day at 4:00 AM to the news that two of our colleagues at USAID had been attacked in a neighborhood near ours in Khartoum. Over the next few hours, the Embassy vaulted into crisis mode. Facts and rumors swirled as we attempted to make sense of what had happened.
We learned that John Granville, 33, an American officer, and Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama, 39, a locally employed Sudanese national, had been shot. Abdelrahman died at the scene. John was immediately taken to the hospital. After hours of surgery, where volunteers from the Embassy stood by to give blood, John succumbed to his injuries and passed away. Both John and Abdelrahman died serving the common interests of the U.S. and the Sudan in bringing peace and stability to a country that has long been wracked by violence and conflict.
The entire U.S. mission in Sudan is in a state of shock over the deaths of John and Abdelrahman. John worked on the Democracy & Governance team with USAID – just last week, I worked with him on a reporting cable about the role of radio in Sudan’s political future, one of John’s areas of expertise.
The Embassy is working closely with local authorities on investigating the tragic events of New Year’s Day here in Khartoum. It’s our hope that we will have some more answers soon.
Khartoum is designated as a danger post in the Foreign Service with an unfortunate history of deaths in the line of duty. In 1973, Ambassador Cleo Noel Jr. and Deputy Chief of Mission George Curtis Moore were killed by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. In 1981, a USAID employee was killed in a car accident.