Libyan officials condemn consulate attack, question security

President Obama and the Libyan president and deputy prime minister condemned the consulate attack, but one Libyan official said some blame lies with the US for inadequate security.

Ibrahim Alaguri/AP
Soot and debris spills out of the US Consulate after an attack by protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad in Benghazi, Libya, Wednesday, Sept. 12. The US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed.

Libyan officials today condemned the attack on a US consulate in Libya yesterday, with interim President Mohamed el Megarif calling the attack “cowardly” and apologizing to the US, vowing to apprehend the killers. 

The attack by armed Islamists killed the US ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, as well as Sean Smith, an information management officer in the foreign service, and two other Americans who have not been publicly identified. The attack came after media and religious television hosts in the region publicized a film, produced in the US, that mocks the prophet Mohammed. 

Mustapha Abushagur, Libya’s deputy prime minister, wrote on Twitter: “I do condemn the cowardly act of attacking the US consulate and the killing of Mr. Stevens and the other diplomats.” He called Stevens “a friend of Libya” and said the killings were “an attack on America, Libya and free people everywhere.”

But Libya’s deputy interior minister, Wanis al-Sharif, said in a press conference aired on Al Jazeera that the killings were carried out not by an Islamist group but by members of the former regime of Muammar Qaddafi. He also implied that the US consulate was at fault for not taking adequate security measures.

"They are to blame simply for not withdrawing their personnel from the premises, despite the fact that there was a similar incident when [Al-Qaeda second-in-command and Libyan citizen] Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed. It was necessary that they take precautions. It was their fault that they did not take the necessary precautions," said Mr. Sharif, according to Al Jazeera.

President Barack Obama condemned the attack and promised to provide “all necessary resources” to secure American personnel in Libya, and to increase security at embassies around the world. 

“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,” President Obama said in a statement.

The Associated Press reports that Stevens was killed as he went to the consulate to try to evacuate employees stuck there when the building came under attack. Libyan and American security forces battled the attackers and the consulate was burned and looted.  

Read the Monitor's full report on the attack here.

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