U.S. official badly hurt in Sudan shooting

(Reuters) - A U.S. official was critically wounded in a shooting attack on an embassy vehicle in Khartoum on Tuesday and his Sudanese driver was killed, a Western diplomatic source said.

"What we have heard is that a driver and a U.S. official, sometime a little after midnight, were heading home. The driver was shot and died on the spot and the U.S. official was shot and critically injured," the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Al Arabiya television reported that the shooting was in a main street in the capital Khartoum. It said there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The shooting came a day after President George W. Bush signed into a law a measure aimed at allowing states, local governments, mutual funds and pension funds to cut investment in companies doing business in Sudan, particularly its oil sectors.

Some 20 U.S. states have initiated divestment efforts because of the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, which has taken some 200,000 lives and displaced some 2.5 million since rebels took up arms against the government in 2003.

Bush has called the deaths in the Darfur conflict genocide, a charge the Sudanese government has rejected.

On Monday a joint United Nations-African Union (AU) force took charge of peacekeeping in Darfur , seeking to end almost five years of fighting there.

The force replaces a struggling AU mission. The plan is for it ultimately to comprise 20,000 soldiers and 6,000 police, but numbers are currently only about a third of those levels.

"My administration will continue its efforts to bring about significant improvements in the conditions in Sudan through sanctions against the government of Sudan and high-level diplomatic engagement and by supporting the deployment of peacekeepers in Darfur ," Bush said in a statement.

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