BEIRUT: The US ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff were killed in a rocket attack on Tuesday night that targeted his car in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, a Libyan official said on Wednesday.
“The American ambassador and three staff members were killed when gunmen fired rockets at them,” the official in Benghazi told Reuters. Asked about the deaths, a US Embassy employee in Tripoli said: “We have no information regarding this.” The employee said the embassy could confirm the death of one person.
The Libyan official said the US ambassador had been on his way to a safer venue after protesters attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi and opened fire, killing a staff member, in protest at a US film that they deemed blasphemous to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
The official said the ambassador and three other staff were killed when gunmen fired rockets at his car. He said the US Embassy had sent a military plane to transport the bodies to Tripoli to fly them to the United States.
Gunmen assaulted the Benghazi compound on Tuesday evening, clashing with Libyan security forces, who withdrew under heavy fire. The attackers fired at the buildings while others threw handmade bombs into the compound, setting off small explosions. Small fires were burning around the compound.
The assault followed a protest in neighbouring Egypt where demonstrators scaled the walls of the US embassy, tore down the American flag and burned it during a protest over the same film which they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
‘Gaddafi loyalists killed US diplomats’
A senior Libyan official accused supporters of the late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi of carrying out an attack that killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi.
Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif told a news conference in Benghazi that the attackers had used rocket-propelled grenades.
“There were RPGs…which shows there were forces exploiting this. They are remnants of the (former) regime,” he said. The news conference was broadcast on Al Jazeera television.
He suggested that the attackers could have been acting in revenge for the extradition from Mauritania this month of Qaddafi’s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi.
Qaddafi was ousted by rebel forces backed by Nato air power in August 2011 and was killed in October after months as a fugitive.