US ambassador to Libya killed in Benghazi rocket attack
The US ambassador and three other American diplomatic staff have been killed in an attack on an US consulate in Libya by protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Mohammed.
Libyan officials said ambassador Chris Stevens was killed on Tuesday night when he and a group of embassy staff went to the consulate in Benghazi to try to evacuate workers. The protesters were firing guns and rocket propelled grenades.
The attack on the consulate took place as hundreds of protesters in neighbouring Egypt scaled the walls of the US Embassy in Cairo and tore down and replaced the American flag with a black Islamic banner.
The attacks in Benghazi and Cairo were the first such assaults on US diplomatic facilities in either country, at a time when both Libya and Egypt are struggling to overcome the turmoil following the ouster of their long-time authoritarian leaders, Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak, in uprisings last year.
The protests in both countries were sparked by outrage over a film ridiculing Mohammed produced by an Israeli filmmaker living in California and being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. Excerpts from the film dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.
President Barack Obama condemned the attacks and ordered increased security at US diplomatic posts around the globe.
Mr Obama said: "I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi." The four Americans "exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe," he said.
Mr Stevens, 52, was a career diplomat who spoke Arabic and French and had already served two tours in Libya, including running the office in Benghazi during the revolt against Gaddafi. He was confirmed as ambassador to Libya earlier this year.
Five other US ambassadors have been killed in the line of duty, the last being Adolph Dubs in Afghanistan in 1979.