U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomats were killed Tuesday in an assault on the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, the White House said Wednesday.
Wire services and reporters on the ground said that Stevens and the others were fleeing the consulate when a rocket-propelled grenade struck their vehicle. Al-Jazeera’s correspondent in Benghazi said the bodies of the dead had been taken to the Benghazi airport.
Stevens, a longtime Middle East hand in the State Department, was named ambassador to Libya in May. He had worked in Libya for a number of years, both before and after the fall of slain Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. The other dead were not identified in the White House statement issued Wednesday morning.
Reports are saying the assault was prompted by an amateur anti-Muslim video made in the U.S. attacking the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
“I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi,” Obama said in the statement, calling for “all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe.”
In the meantime, the Romney campaign and RNC chairman Reince Priebus have taken the opportunity from the tragedy to launch a completely inaccurate and tactless political attack against Obama, claiming the president is “sympathizing” with the attackers because of a statement unauthorized by the White House that was released by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Good one, guys.
We’ll keep you updated on further reports.