U.S. ambassador to Libya killed in attack
The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed in an attack on the Benghazi consulate and a safe house, stormed by gunmen blaming America for a film they say insults the Prophet Mohammad.
Gunmen attacked and set fire to the U.S. consulate in the city of Benghazi late on Tuesday evening as another assault was mounted on the U.S. embassy in Cairo.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed in the assault, but it is not clear how or where he died. Consular staff were rushed to a safe house after the initial attack, Libya's Deputy Interior Minister Wanis Al-Sharif said.
An evacuation plane with U.S. commando units then arrived from Tripoli to evacuate them from the house.
"It was supposed to be a secret place and we were surprised the armed groups knew about it," Sharif said.
President Barack Obama, whose administration supported last year's Libyan insurgency, branded the killing an "outrageous attack" and increased security at U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide.
The amateurish film, which can be seen on YouTube, portrays Mohammad as a fool, a philanderer and a religious fake.
U.S. officials said that there were indications that members of militant faction Ansar al Sharia may have been involved. They also said some reporting from the region suggested the involvement of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb as well.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens: A diplomat devoted to the Middle East
Ambassador Christopher Stevens, 52, was a highly regarded 21-year career member of the foreign service who spoke Arabic and French and was passionately engaged in assisting Libya build a democracy after years of dictatorship under Moammar Gadhafi.
Stevens, who was born and raised in Northern California, first fell in love with the Middle East while teaching English in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco while a member of the Peace Corps from 1983 to 1985.
His academic chops were impressive: Stevens graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1982, earned a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of Law in 1989, and an M.S. from the National War College in 2010. After practicing international law, he joined the United States Foreign Service in 1991 and undertook many difficult postings, including service as a consular and economic officer at the embassy in Riyadh, consular and political officer in Cairo, political officer in Damascus, and deputy officer and political section chief at the consulate in Jerusalem. From late 2006 to 2007, he was a Pearson Fellow to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, serving as minority staff adviser to Sen. Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, according to the website AllGov.
Stevens was first posted to Libya in 2007 as a deputy chief of mission. He served as charge' d'affaires at the Tripoli embassy until 2009, when he became director of the Office of Multilateral Nuclear and Security Affairs, said AllGov.
In a video he made for the website of Tripoli-Libya Embassy, Stevens, who was enamored of Libyan culture, food and archaeology, said he was honored to serve as an envoy to the Libyan opposition during the revolution, "and I was thrilled to watch the Libyan people stand up and demand their rights."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commended Stevens for being one of the first people in Benghazi during the uprising. "He risked his life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation," she said.