13 Sep 2012

US ambassador death under investigation

Barack Obama pledges to work with Libya as US officials investigate whether the attack which killed the US ambassador was planned, rather than the work of a spontaneous group of militia.

US ambassador death under investigation (G)

Chris Stevens, 52, was killed at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya when the building came under attack by a mob with guns and rocket propelled grenades.

US President Barack Obama said in a White House appearance that the US would “work with the Libyan government to bring to justice” those who killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

The White House is investigating whether the assault on the consulate was a planned terrorist strike to mark the anniversary of the 11 September, 2001 attacks and not a spontaneous mob enraged over the US-made anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” as was initially suspected.

The attack on the Benghazi consulate was “a planned, coordinated, well-executed military style event,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers.

The murder was the first killing of a US ambassador in more than 30 years. Several Libyan security guards also were killed.

Read more from International Editor Lindsey Hilsum:
Will Libyans heed the warning of the ambassador’s murder?

In a show of force, the Pentagon moved two warships to the Libyan coast. Officials said one destroyer, the USS Laboon, moved to a position off the coast Wednesday, and the destroyer USS McFaul was en route and should be stationed off the coast within days, increasing the number of Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean from four to five.

At the same time, some 50 US Marines headed to Libya to reinforce security at US diplomatic facilities, initially at the American embassy in Tripoli, not Benghazi.

President Barack Obama and Libyan President Mohamed Magarief spoke on Wednesday evening, agreeing to investigate the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi, according to the White House.

“The president made it clear that we must work together to do whatever is necessary to identify the perpetrators of this attack and bring them to justice. The two presidents agreed to work closely over the course of this investigation,” the White House said in a statement.

Mr Obama also called Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi about the protests in that country and said Egypt “must cooperate with the United States in securing US. diplomatic facilities and personnel,” the White House said.

Read more: US embassy attacks - the film behind the fury