Friday, 14 September 2012

US ambassador to Libya, three others killed in rocket attack

The US ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff were killed in a rocket attack on Tuesday night that targeted his car in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, a Libyan official said on Wednesday.

"The American ambassador and three staff members were killed when gunmen fired rockets at them," the official in Benghazi told Reuters. Asked about the deaths, a US Embassy employee in Tripoli said: "We have no information regarding this." The employee said the embassy could confirm the death of one person.
 The Libyan official said the US ambassador had been on his way to a safer venue after protesters attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi and opened fire, killing a staff member, in protest at a US film that they deemed blasphemous to the Prophet Mohammad.
The official said the ambassador and three other staff were killed when gunmen fired rockets at his car. He said the US Embassy had sent a military plane to transport the bodies to Tripoli to fly them to the United States.
Gunmen assaulted the Benghazi compound on Tuesday evening, clashing with Libyan security forces, who withdrew under heavy fire. The attackers fired at the buildings while others threw handmade bombs into the compound, setting off small explosions. Small fires were burning around the compound.
The assault followed a protest in neighbouring Egypt where demonstrators scaled the walls of the US embassy, tore down the American flag and burned it during a protest over the same film which they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.
US Cairo, Libya missions attacked
Protesters in Egypt and Libya attacked US diplomatic missions on Tuesday in a spasm of violence that led to the death of a State Department officer at the consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi after fierce clashes at the compound.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, in a statement late on Tuesday, confirmed the death of the US diplomat, who was not identified, and condemned the attack on the Benghazi consulate, after a day of mayhem in two countries that raised fresh questions about Washington's relations with the Arab world.
The violence in Benghazi followed protests in neighboring Egypt where protesters scaled the walls of the Cairo embassy and tore down the American flag and burned it during protests over what demonstrators said was a US film that insulted the Prophet Mohammed.
On Tuesday, Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar mosque and seat of Sunni learning condemned a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet organized by a US group including Terry Jones, a Christian pastor who triggered riots in Afghanistan in 2010 by threatening to burn the Koran.
But it was not immediately clear whether it was the event sponsored by Jones, or another, possibly related, anti-Islam production, that prompted the melee at the US Embassy in Egypt, and possibly the violence in Libya.
Whatever the cause, the events appeared to underscore how much the ground in the Middle East has shifted for Washington, which for decades had close ties with Arab dictators who could be counted on to muzzle dissent.
 US President Barack Obama's administration in recent weeks had appeared to overcome some of its initial caution following the election of an Islamist Egyptian president, Mohamed Mursi, offering his government desperately needed debt relief and backing for international loans.
In Libya, gunmen in Benghazi attacked the US diplomatic compound on Tuesday evening, clashing with Libyan security forces, officials said.
Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr, spokesman for Libya's Supreme Security Committee, said, "There is a connection between this attack and the protests that have been happening in Cairo."
But a US official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he had no reason to believe the two incidents were linked.
Jones, the Christian pastor in Florida, said that on Tuesday's anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, he had released a video promoting a film that portrayed the Prophet in a "satirical" manner. Many Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet offensive.
US media, including The Wall Street Journal, reported that the film at issue, entitled "Innocence of Muslims," was produced by an Israeli-American real estate developer, but had been promoted by Jones.
In Cairo, among about 2,000 protesters gathered in the Egyptian capital was Ismail Mahmoud, who, like others, did not name the film that angered him, but called on Mursi, Egypt's first civilian president, to take action.
"This movie must be banned immediately and an apology should be made," said the 19-year-old Mahmoud, a member of the "ultras" soccer supporters who played a big role in the uprising that brought down Hosni Mubarak last year.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...