Four Americans including the US Ambassador are reported dead in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The four were escaping the building that was under attack, when a rocket hit their car.
Reuters reports the building was being evacuated as it was being stormed by militants upset about a US-made film insulting the Prophet Mohammad.
A Libyan official is quoted saying US ambassador Christopher Stevens was helping the staff escape the consulate in Benghazi when their car came under attack. The official tells Reuters, "The American ambassador and three staff members were killed when gunmen fired rockets at them."
At the time Libyan security forces were battling Islamist militants who were storming the consulate compound, setting fires and looting the building. Digital Journal had reported on the incident earlier, before it turned deadly.
US President Obama has now confirmed the attack issuing a statement condemning the attack and the killing of the four Americans. "Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives. I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants."
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton also issued a statement saying, “I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack.”
Libya's deputy prime minister Mustafa Abu Shagour has condemned the killing as a cowardly act. "I do condemn the cowardly act of attacking the US consulate and the killing of Mr. Stevens and the other diplomats." "Ambassador Stevens was a friend of Libya and we are shocked at the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi." "I condemn these barbaric acts in the strongest possible terms. This is an attack on America, Libya and free people everywhere."
Stevens, had served in Benghazi during the recent uprising against Muammar Qaddafi, and he was admired by the Libyan rebels for his support of their struggle.
At the same time as the Libyan attack, a group of protesters scaled the wall of the US embassy in Cairo, stormed into the outer grounds, pulled down an American flag and then tried to burn it.
A sit-in outside the embassy was continuing this morning.
In both Benghazi and Cairo, protesters were infuriated by a US made film that, they say, ridiculed the prophet Muhammad.