US ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya and 3 embassy staff were killed in a rocket attack after the diplomat’s car was targeted in the eastern city of Benghazi. The State Department identified 1 of the dead American as information management officer Sean Smith, a married father of two and a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service.
President Obama released a statement “condemning the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens”.
President Obama also stated he had ordered heightened security at all U.S. diplomatic offices around the world in the wake of the attack in Benghazi and a similar but less violent incident in Cairo last Tuesday. Both incidents were ignited by Muslims protesting a film made in the U.S. which insults the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
There are varied reports of the circumstances surrounding the deaths that occurred last Tuesday night. Al-Jazeera is reporting Stevens died of smoke inhalation after a mob attacked the consulate and set it on fire. Reuters, citing an unnamed Libyan official, said the 4 Americans died after militants fired rockets at their car in Benghazi. Up until now, everything is still being investigated.
According to the Associated Press, Stevens and 3 other employees of the U.S. Embassy in Libya went to the consulate in Benghazi in an effort to get staff to safety after the building came under attack.
The ambassador’s death follows an attack last June on the UK ambassador to Libya, Dominic Asquith. Two British bodyguards were injured after a rocket was fired at Asquith’s convoy in Benghazi, hitting his security escort. There have been similar attacks in Benghazi on the Red Cross and the UN.
The said attacks elevated questions about the future U.S. diplomatic existence in Libya, relations between Washington and Tripoli, the unstable security situation in post-Gaddafi Libya and whether more protests might take place in the Muslim world.
U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration sustained the Libyan insurgency with funds, weapons and training, branded the killing as an “outrageous attack” and ordered increased security at U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide.