US envoy to Libya killed in Benghazi consulate attack (Third Lead)

September 12th, 2012 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, Sep 12 (IANS) US ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomats were killed Tuesday in a rocket attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, the White House confirmed Wednesday.

Various media reports from the eastern city said Stevens and the others were fleeing the consulate when a rocket-propelled grenade struck their vehicle.

CNN cited a contractor working at the mission as saying he saw all four bodies on the street Wednesday morning. The bodies are now in the Central Hospital in Benghazi, he said.

The contractor said he could hear rocket-propelled grenade attacks Tuesday night. Libyans were also killed in the attack, with the victims being shot on the spot.

Stevens, a long-time Middle East hand in the State Department, was also the American envoy to the Libyan rebel movement, that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi last year, based in the rebel capital of Benghazi.

A speaker of Arabic and French, he was among the first American diplomats sent to Libya in 2007 when the US resumed ties with the Gaddafi regime.

The other dead were not identified in the White House statement issued Wednesday.

“Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the attack “in the strongest terms”. She said she had called Libyan President Mohamed Yusuf al-Magariaf “to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya”.

CBS News cited Wanis al-Sharef, an interior ministry official in Benghazi, as saying that a total of four Americans were killed when the angry mob, which gathered to protest a US-made film that ridiculed Prophet Mohammad, fired guns and burned down the consulate.

Al-Sharef said Stevens died of suffocation, while two US Marines sent to Benghazi when the clash erupted were shot and killed by well-armed protesters. It was not immediately clear whether the Marines were part of Stevens’ security detail.

The last time an American ambassador was killed by terrorists was in 1979, when the envoy to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs, was kidnapped and killed during an attempt to rescue him, CNN said citing State Department records.

“I do condemn the cowardly act of attacking the US consulate and the killing of Mr. Stevens and the other diplomats,” Libya’s Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur said on his Twitter account as cited by CBS News.

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