On Day He Decided to Flee Khartoum, US Doctor Killed

Bushra Ibnauf Sulieman kept working in capital as long as he could
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 1, 2023 1:00 AM CDT
On the Day He Decided to Flee Khartoum, US Doctor Killed in Sudan
Smoke is seen in Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday, April 22, 2023.   (AP Photo/Marwan Ali, File)

Bound to Sudan by ailing parents and his devotion to treating the poor there, American doctor Bushra Ibnauf Sulieman kept working as long as he could after fighting engulfed Sudan’s capital. For days after battles between two rival Sudanese commanders erupted in Khartoum on April 15, the 49-year-old Sulieman treated the city’s wounded. He and other doctors ventured out as explosions shook the walls of homes where Khartoum’s people cowered inside. Gunfire between the two factions battling for control resounded in the streets. "Say, ‘Nothing will happen to us except what God has decreed for us,'" Sulieman, a US-born gastroenterologist who divided his time and work between Iowa City, Iowa, and Khartoum, said in one of his last messages to worried friends on Facebook last week, as fighting persisted. ”And in God let the believers put their trust.”

The morning that Sulieman decided he had to risk the dangerous escape from Sudan’s capital with his parents, American wife, and his two American children was the morning that the war found Sulieman, friends say, per the AP. In the wholesale looting that has accompanied fighting in the capital, Khartoum, a city of 5 million, a roving band of strangers surrounded him in his yard Tuesday, stabbing him to death in front of his family. Friends suspect robbery was the motive. He became one of two Americans confirmed killed in Sudan in the fighting, both dual nationals. Authorities say the other, with ties to Denver, was caught in a crossfire. They have not released that American’s name.

Mohamed Eisa, a Sudanese doctor who practices in the Pittsburgh area, was a close colleague of Sulieman. Over the years, “sometimes I asked him, ‘Bushra, what are you doing here? What are you doing in Sudan??" Eisa recalled. "He always says to me, ’Mohamed, listen—yes, I love living in the United States ... but the United States health care system is very strong," and one doctor more or less won’t make a difference. Eisa said Sulieman would tell him: “In Sudan, everything I do has so much impact on so many lives, so many students and so many medical professionals.” Sudanese in their country and in the US spoke of Sulieman’s killing as a special loss. "For nothing. For nothing," Eisa said of Sulieman’s killing, before finally finding passage over the weekend on a ship out of Sudan.

(More Sudan stories.)

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