US official killed in Benghazi in protests over Muhammad film
An armed mob angered over an American-made film, deemed offensive to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, attacked and set fire to the US Consulate in Benghazi, killing a State Department officer.
Following fierce clashes at the compound, armed protesters attacked and set fire to the building, according to the Libyan security sources. Witnesses say the attack left much of the consulate burned.
Rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the consulate from a nearby farm, said Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr, a spokesman for the Libyan Interior Ministry’s security commission. “The Libyan security forces came under heavy fire, and we were not prepared for the intensity of the attack,” Hurr said. At least three members of the security forces were taken away in an ambulance, Reuters reported.
“One American official was killed and another injured in the hand,” Libya’s Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharef told AFP. “The other staff members were evacuated and are safe and sound.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed that one official from her agency was killed in the attack. Clinton said some have sought to justify “this vicious behaviour” as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet, and noted that the US deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.
The attack occurred in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, and came just hours after protesters stormed the US Embassy in Cairo, Egypt’s capital, in outrage over an amateur American-made film they say insulted the Prophet Muhammad. Over 2,000 protesters stormed the US Embassy in Cairo, the first time ever that the US embassy in Egypt had been attacked or breached.
The US embassy in Cairo condemned “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” Ahmed Ben Helli, the Arab League deputy secretary general, has also condemned the film, saying it “contained insults against the Prophet Muhammad” and “was denounced by Christians and Muslims” across the Arab world.
The two incidents came on the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in the US.