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In Egypt, Libya fierce clashes cause damage, death (+video)

Response to a U.S. film protestors say insulted the Prophet Mohammad lead to the death of one American and injured others in Benghazi, Libya. Protestors demanded the movie be banned and asked for an apology. 

By Tamim Elyan and Omar al-MosmariReuters / September 11, 2012

A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States. An American staff member of the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi has died, Libyan security sources said.

REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

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CAIRO/BENGHAZI, Libya

Protesters in Egypt and Libya attacked U.S. diplomatic missions on Tuesday, leading to the death of an American staffer at the consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi after fierce clashes at the compound, a Libyan official said.

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Crowds gather outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo to decry a film they say is being produced in the U.S. and insults the Prophet Mohammad.

"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 he did not know the exact number of injured or what the cause of death was.

The violence in Benghazi followed protests in neighboring Egypt where protesters scaled the walls of the Cairo embassy and tore down the American flag and burned it during protests over what demonstrators said was a U.S. film that insulted the Prophet Mohammad.

On Tuesday, Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar mosque and seat of Sunni learning condemned a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet organized by a U.S. group including Terry Jones, a Christian pastor who triggered riots in Afghanistan in 2010 by threatening to burn the Koran.

Jones said that on Tuesday's anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, he had released a video promoting a film that portrayed the Prophet in a "satirical" manner. Many Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet offensive.

Gunmen in Benghazi attacked the compound on Tuesday evening, clashing with Libyan security forces, officials said. "There is a connection between this attack and the protests that have been happening in Cairo," Hurr said.

The U.S. State Department did not refer to any deaths, but 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."

Among about 2,000 protesters gathered in the Egyptian capital was Ismail Mahmoud, who, like others, did not name the film that angered him, but called on President Mohamed Mursi, Egypt's first civilian president and an Islamist, to take action.

"This movie must be banned immediately and an apology should be made," said the 19-year-old Mahmoud, a member of the "ultras" soccer supporters who played a big role in the uprising that brought down Hosni Mubarak last year.

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