, BENGHAZI, Libya, Sept 12 – America’s ambassador to Libya and three officials were killed when a mob attacked the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi to protest a film deemed offensive to Islam, an official said Wednesday.
“The ambassador was killed along with three other officials,” said Wanis al-Sharif, the deputy minister of the interior.
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’ death in Tuesday’s attack was confirmed in a tweet by Mustafa Abu Shagur, the deputy prime minister.
“I condemn these barbaric acts in the strongest possible terms. This is an attack on America, Libya and free people everywhere,” Shagur said in a separate tweet.
Stevens, a career officer with the US foreign service, had been in the country for less than four months after taking up his post in the capital Tripoli in May.
Fawzi Wanis, who heads the High Security Commission in Benghazi, confirmed that Stevens was at the consulate when it was attacked.
Another security source in the city – cradle of the 2011 uprising that toppled the regime of late dictator Moamer Kadhafi – speculated that the envoy may have suffocated because of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The envoy died when the consulate was attacked by an armed mob protesting against the film, which according according to the Wall Street Journal was made by an Israeli-American who describes Islam as a “cancer” and depicts the Prophet Mohammed sleeping with women.
The attack came just hours after Islamists also stormed Washington’s embassy in the Egyptian capital Cairo in a similar protest against the movie.
Stevens, a career officer with the US foreign service, had been in the country for less than four months after taking up his post in the capital Tripoli in May
Before confirmation of Stevens’ death, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that a State Department official had been killed in the attack on the consulate, saying: “We are heartbroken by this terrible loss.”
Abdelmonoem al-Horr, spokesman for the Libyan interior ministry’s security commission, earlier said rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the consulate from a nearby farm.
Witnesses said the attackers ripped up a US flag, then looted the consulate before setting it on fire on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks.