US Consulate Attacked in Libya, Staffer Killed
Update: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi city in Libya, in which a staff member was killed. In later developments, Reuters reports that the US Ambassador Christopher Stephens was also killed during the attack.
"We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack," she said in a statement.
Cyprus' Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis said: “I am deeply shocked by the news of this horrible and dastardly attack, which resulted in the death of four US public servants, including the US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. This attack is an abhorrent and hideous act of violence, which I strongly condemn. It cannot be justified under any circumstances and the culprits should be identified and held accountable."
The deadly attack is being blamed on Muslim fundamentalists who are furious at a US movie that insults the Prophet Mohammed. It follows angry protests in Egypt outside the US embassy in Cairo over the same issue, and there were ensuing attacks on the US Embassy in Yemen in which several were injured in crossfire.
Clinton said she deplores any intentional efforts to offend religious beliefs through inflammatory material.
"Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind," she said.
The cause of all the anger is a movie directed and written by Sam Bacile, an Egyptian anti-Muslim Christian who says his work was funded by Jewish donors, reports the Wall Street Journal. AP later reported that 'Sam Bacile' is a pseudonym and the film producer's real name is suspected to be 'Nakoula Basseley Nakoula', who is a California resident and a Coptic Christian convicted of financial fraud.
After the attack, the US is tightening security at its embassies worldwide to protect its personnel, said Clinton.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
“I strongly condemn the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi yesterday. There is no justification for such an attack and the appalling death of an US official. My thoughts and condolences are with his family and all his colleagues at the State Department.
“I welcome President Magariaf’s condemnation of this incident. It is essential that the Libyan authorities take urgent action to improve security, particularly in Benghazi, and identify those responsible for such attacks. The UK stands ready to assist the Libyan authorities in any way we can and to support their efforts to continue the path towards a stable and secure Libya that fulfils the aspirations of the Libyan people.”