US ambassador 'killed in Libya'

September 13, 2012 3:34 pm

The United States ambassador to Libya has died after an attack by militiamen on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, Libyan officials say. 
Ambassador Christopher Stevens is said to be among four US officials killed in a protest over a US-produced film that is said to insult the Prophet Muhammad.
US media quote US officials confirming the ambassador’s death. But there is no comment from the state department. Protesters have also attacked the US embassy in Cairo over the film.In the attack in Benghazi, unidentified armed men stormed the grounds, shooting at buildings and throwing handmade bombs into the compound.
Security forces returned fire but Libyan officials say they were overwhelmed. A Libyan official has said Ambassador Stevens died from suffocation as a result of the attack. The death was confirmed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mustafa Abu Shagur.
“I condemn these barbaric acts in the strongest possible terms. This is an attack on America, Libya and free people everywhere,” he said on the social networking site Twitter. On the state department confirmed the death of a US official during the Benghazi attack.
In a statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “We are heartbroken by this terrible loss
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behaviour as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.
“The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.” Reports say a militia known as the Ansar al-Sharia brigade was involved in the attack, but the group has denied the claim, the BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli says. Our correspondent says many people are still armed following the conflict that overthrew Colonel Muammar Gaddafi last year. The film that sparked the demonstration is said to have been produced by a 52-year-old US citizen from California named Sam Bacile, and promoted by an expatriate Egyptian Copt. The two men are described as having anti-Islamic views.
A trailer of the low-budget movie, which correspondents say is highly provocative and insulting to Muslims, has appeared on YouTube translated into Arabic. The BBC’s Richard Galpin says there are real fears that protests over the video could spread. In Cairo, the US flag was torn down and set alight by the demonstrators A demonstration in Cairo on Tuesday saw protesters breach the US embassy and tear down the US flag, which was flying at half mast to mark the 9/11 attacks. They condemned what they said was the humiliation of the Prophet of Islam under the pretext of freedom of speech. (BBC)

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