US ambassador killed
Updated: 2012-09-13 07:50
By Ibrahim al-Majbari in Benghazi, Libya (China Daily)
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, late on Tuesday. An armed mob protesting over a film deemed offensive to Islam attacked the mission and set fire to the building, killing US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other officials. Provided by Agence France-Presse
The US Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three officials were killed when a mob attacked the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, Libyan authorities said on Wednesday.
"The ambassador was killed along with three other officials," said Wanis al-Sharif, the deputy minister of the interior ministry. Stevens' death in Tuesday's attack was confirmed by Mustafa Abu Shagur, the deputy prime minister.
US President Barack Obama on Wednesday condemned the attacks, saying he had ordered "all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe".
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.
The envoy died when an armed mob protesting against a film deemed offensive to Islam attacked the US mission, just hours after Islamists also stormed Washington's embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Libya has not realized stability following the civil war as the West proclaimed. Instead, some Islamic forces have started to rise and are resorting to terrorism, said He Wenping, an expert on African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The Islamic world has been portrayed as the target of the US-led counterterrorism war since the Sept 11 attacks. Its discontent with war and with Western interference in the region are giving rise to increasing protests and bloodshed aimed at the US, said Wang Lian, a professor at School of International Studies with Peking University.
But the killing of the ranking official in Libya raised questions about the vulnerability of American officials at a time when the profound changes sweeping the Arab world which have hardly dispelled the rage against the US in the region, the New York Times said.
The film, Innocence of Muslims, was made by an Israeli-American who describes Islam as a "cancer" and depicts the Prophet Muhammad sleeping with women, the Wall Street Journal reported.
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 Sept 11 attacks.
"Dozens of demonstrators attacked the consulate and set fire to it," said a Benghazi resident, who only gave his name as Omar, adding that he had seen flames and heard shots.
The violent protest was strongly condemned by Libya's General National Congress, which issued a statement expressing "outrage at the unfortunate attack".
The Libyan incident came after thousands of Egyptian demonstrators on Tuesday tore down the Stars and Stripes at the US embassy in Cairo and replaced it with a black Islamic flag.
AP and Zhao Shengnan in Beijing contributed to this story.
Coptic activists said they would stage a vigil on Wednesday in protest against the film.
The Maspero Youth Union and the Coalition of Coptic Egypt condemned "all sorts of contempt or disdain against any religion, as well as to the sowing of sedition between people who embrace different religions," the statement said.
In Washington, Clinton said she had spoken with Libyan leader Mohamed al-Megaryef to coordinate extra support to help protect Americans working in Libya, and he had pledged his full cooperation.
"In light of the events of today, the United States government is working with partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide," Clinton said.
Benghazi, a stronghold of Islamist extremists and cradle of the revolution that saw strongman Moamer Kadhafi captured and killed last year, has seen a wave of violence in recent months, including attacks on Western targets, bombings of military buildings and the killings of army and security officers.
Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelali has warned that Islamists amount to a "major force" in Libya both in terms of numbers and arms.
(China Daily 09/13/2012 page10)