US envoy to Libya, 3 embassy staff killed in rocket strike

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Beirut, Sept 12: The US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens and three other embassy members were killed in a rocket strike in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday night.

It was not immediately clear, however, whether the ambassador was in his vehicle or at the Libyan consulate when the strike took place. Later, it was learnt later that Stevens and three other embassy staff were killed in a rocket attack on their car while they were rushing out from a consular building. The unidentified assassins attacked the US Consulate and started firing protesting a film by an Israeli film-maker called Innocence of Islam, which they claimed was insulting Prophet Mohammad.

The assault took place following a protest in the neighbouring Egypt, where protesters scaled the walls of the US embassy and tore down the American flag and burned it while protesting against the same film.

According to one report, Stevens, 52, died due to smoke suffocation after the attackers threw homemade bombs in the diplomatic premise.

Stevens had welcomed the Libyan revolt that overthrew late tyrant Muammar Gaddafi and served as an envoy to the Libyan rebels from early weeks of February last year. Shortly after being appointed the ambassador in May this year, Stevens said in his introductory video speech. He said he was excited to return to Libya and build on the partnership between the US and Libya so that the Libyan people succeeded in achieving their goals.

Stevens, a man from California, said he had grown a liking for West Asia and North Africa during his stint in the Peace Corps when he worked as a teacher in Morocco. Later, he joined the state department and served as a foreign service officer in places like Jerusalem, Damascus, Riyadh and Cairo. He was the deputy chief of mission in Libya between 2007-09 after the USA restored relations with the Gaddafi regime.

US President Barack Obama said it was an 'outrageous attack' while the Libyan deputy prime minister Mustafa Abu Shagour said the killing was a cowardly act.

Official sources said the US Embassy had sent a military aircraft to take the bodies to Tripoli from where they will be flown back to the US.

OneIndia News

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