Obama vows to track down ambassador's killers

Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:23pm EDT
 
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By Matt Spetalnick and Hadeel Al Shalchi

WASHINGTON/BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - President Barack Obama branded the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans an "outrageous attack" on Wednesday and vowed to track down the perpetrators, while ordering a tightening of diplomatic security worldwide.

The ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and the other Americans were killed after Islamist gunmen attacked the U.S. consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi on Tuesday night. The attackers were part of a mob blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.

The violence in the eastern city, a cradle of Libya's U.S.-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi last year, came on the anniversary of al Qaeda's attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Another assault was mounted on the U.S. embassy in Cairo in which protesters, who included Islamists and teenage soccer fans, tore down and burned a U.S. flag.

U.S. government officials said the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance and there were indications that members of a militant faction calling itself Ansar al Sharia - which translates as Supporters of Islamic Law - may have been involved.

They also said some reporting from the region suggested that members of Al-Qaeda's north Africa-based affiliate, known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, may have been involved.

"It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack," one U.S. official said. However, some U.S. officials cautioned against assuming that the attacks were deliberately organized to coincide with the September 11 anniversary.

The violence in Benghazi and Cairo threatened to spread to other Muslim countries on Wednesday. A U.S. official said Washington had ordered the evacuation of all U.S. personnel from Benghazi to Tripoli and was reducing staffing in the capital to emergency levels.

Police fired teargas at angry demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy in Tunisia and several hundred people gathered in front of the U.S. embassy in Sudan. In Morocco, a few dozen protesters burned American flags and chanted slogans near the U.S. consulate in Casablanca.   Continued...

 
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 September 11, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori (