U.S. diplomat in Libya dies in consulate attack

Posted: September 12, 2012

CAIRO - Protesters angered over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad fired gunshots and burned down the U.S. Consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, killing one U.S. diplomat, witnesses and the State Department said. In Egypt, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner.

The assaults were the first on U.S. diplomatic facilities in either country, at a time when both Libya and Egypt are struggling to overcome the turmoil following the ouster last year of their longtime leaders, Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak.

The protests in both countries were sparked by outrage over a film ridiculing Muhammad produced by an American in California and being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. Excerpts from the film dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.

Sam Bacile, an American citizen who said he produced, directed, and wrote the two-hour film, said he had not anticipated such a furious reaction. "I feel sorry for the embassy. I am mad," Bacile said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed that one State Department officer had been killed in the protest at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. She condemned the attack and said she had called Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif "to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya."

In Benghazi, a large mob stormed the U.S. Consulate, with gunmen firing their weapons, said Wanis al-Sharef, an Interior Ministry official. The crowd overwhelmed the facility and set fire to it, burning most of it and looting the contents, witnesses said. One American was shot to death and a second was wounded in the hand, al-Sharef said.

Hours before the Benghazi attack, hundreds of mainly ultraconservative Islamist protesters in Egypt marched to the U.S. Embassy. Dozens then scaled the walls, and several went into the courtyard and took down the American flag from a pole. The protesters then raised on the flagpole a black flag with a Muslim declaration of faith, "There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet."

|
|
|
|
|