Four American workers died Tuesday in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Violent protesters were using mob guns and rocket propelled grenades to demonstrate against an unflattering film about Muhammed in development in the U.S. (A similar protest erupted in Cairo, though no serious damage was done to the embassy building there.)
According to the Associated Press, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed when they went to the consulate to help evacuate the embassy's staff.
In a statement Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there were Libyans fighting to protect the consulate. They even carried Stevens' body to the hospital.
Stevens is the first ambassador to be killed in an attack since 1979. Here he is introducing himself to Libyans:
Mohammed el-Megarif, Libya's interim president, apologized for the attack in a statement to reporters. "We extend our apology to America, the American people and the whole world," he said.
On Friday, security consultancy firm AKE warned of violence against foreign diplomats in Benghazi. "The risk of attacks by hostile elements will persist in Benghazi, targeting government assets, as well as interests associated with foreign diplomatic missions and international organisations," AKE's report said.
The White House has released statements condemning the attacks and mourning Stevens, who had served the government abroad for 21 years.
From President Obama:
I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.
I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.
On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya's transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.
The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.
From Sec. of State Clinton:
It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the death of four American personnel in Benghazi, Libya, yesterday. Among them were United States Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith. We are still making next of kin notifications for the other two individuals. Our hearts go out to all their families and colleagues.
A 21-year veteran of the Foreign Service, Ambassador Stevens died last night from injuries he sustained in the attack on our office in Benghazi.
I had the privilege of swearing in Chris for his post in Libya only a few months ago. He spoke eloquently about his passion for service, for diplomacy and for the Libyan people. This assignment was only the latest in his more than two decades of dedication to advancing closer ties with the people of the Middle East and North Africa, which began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. As the conflict in Libya unfolded, Chris was one of the first Americans on the ground in Benghazi. He risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation. He spent every day since helping to finish the work that he started. Chris was committed to advancing America's values and interests, even when that meant putting himself in danger.
Sean Smith was a husband and a father of two, who joined the Department ten years ago. Like Chris, Sean was one of our best. Prior to arriving in Benghazi, he served in Baghdad, Pretoria, Montreal and most recently The Hague.
All the Americans we lost in yesterday's attacks made the ultimate sacrifice. We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future.
America's diplomats and development experts stand on the front lines every day for our country. We are honored by the service of each and every one of them.