Clashes kill American staffer at U.S. consulate in Libya over ‘insulting’ film, sources say

Armed gunmen attack Benghazi compound over film they say insults the Prophet Muhammad, while in Egypt, protesters scale U.S. embassy in Cairo.

2061992856 Clashes kill American staffer at U.S. consulate in Libya over ‘insulting’ film, sources say

Armed gunmen attack Benghazi compound over film they say insults the Prophet Muhammad, while in Egypt, protesters scale U.S. embassy in Cairo.

An American staff member of the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi has died following fierce clashes at the compound, two Libyan security sources said on Wednesday.

“One American staff member has died and a number have been injured in the clashes,” Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr, spokesman for Libya‘s Supreme Security Committee, said, adding that he did not know the exact number of injured.

Armed gunmen attacked the compound on Tuesday evening, clashing with Libyan security forces before the latter withdrew as they came under heavy fire. Reuters reporters on the scene could see looters raiding the compound, walking off with desks, chairs and washing machines.

According to a Libyan Interior Ministry official, the armed men stormed the U.S. consulate and set it ablaze after a protest against a film deemed insulting to Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, which was reportedly produced in America.

Witnesses say Tuesday’s attack left much of the consulate burned.

The United States condemned the attack and said efforts are underway with the help of Libyan authorities to secure the facility.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a statement: “We can confirm that our office in Benghazi, Libya has been attacked by a group of militants. We are working with the Libyans now to secure the compound. We condemn in strongest terms this attack on our diplomatic mission.”

Islamists scale U.S. embassy in Cairo

The attack in Libya came hours after ultraconservative Islamist demonstrators in Egypt climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to protest a film being produced by Egyptian Coptic Christians living in the U.S.

Egyptian soldiers had been sent to the area in central Cairo to prevent several hundred demonstrators who gathered outside the embassy from storming it.

Several protesters climbed up onto the walls of the embassy, tore down the U.S. flag, and raised a black flag, before they were removed by security reinforcements who were rushed to the area.

In a statement earlier Tuesday, the embassy condemned what it called “continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the embassy in Cairo was “working with Egyptian authorities to restore order and get the situation back under control.”

She also urged observers not to draw conclusions about U.S.-Egyptian relations based on the incident, pointing to progress made in engaging with civil society. Nuland said the U.S. hopes protests will remain peaceful and it will continue to support Egypt‘s democratic transition.

Permanent security barriers on the streets around the embassy had recently been removed, in a long-delayed implementation of a court decision won by local traders.