Reports indicate that the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and a number of other consulate employees were killed during the violence at the US Consulate in Benghazi on 11 September. It is unclear how the ambassador was killed - some reports indicate that he was suffocated. The news of the ambassador's death has been confirmed by unnamed Benghazi officials. The US State Department has issued a statement saying that a state department official was killed; however, the identity of the victim has not been confirmed.
The reports of the purported death of the ambassador follow shortly after an attack on the US Consulate facility in Benghazi yesterday evening. The attack coincided with protests at the site. The protests were sparked by the release of an anti-Islam film online, "Innocence of Muslims", which was perceived to be insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.
Similar protests over the issue were reported outside of the US Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, during the evening of September 11. The attack on the Benghazi consulate included the use of rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire. A large crowd at the scene also entered the consulate facilities and caused significant damage to it. The identity of the crowd is not known; however, reports indicate that the crowd is likely to have included Salafist Muslims and members of an Islamist militia, Ansar al-Sharia.
The attack is expected to result in increased diplomatic pressure from the US government on the Libyan government to apprehend the suspects of the attack. Should the death of the ambassador be confirmed, this pressure is expected to increase significantly. The Libyan government may respond to the incident and diplomatic pressure by increasing security at all US diplomatic facilities in the country and near areas frequented by Western, specifically US, nationals. Security force operations against suspected militants in the Benghazi vicinity should also be anticipated in the near term. If these occur, clashes between the security forces and the non-state armed groups and retaliatory violence by these groups against US and Libyan government interests, are possible.
Think Africa Press welcomes inquiries regarding the republication of its articles. If you would like to republish this or any other article for re-print, syndication or educational purposes, please contact: email@example.com