US envoy killed
Washington's envoy to Libya and three other Americans were killed when a mob angered over a movie mocking Islam stormed the US consulate in Benghazi on late Tuesday, sparking world outrage.
US President Barack Obama branded the attack as "outrageous" and ordered increased security at US diplomatic posts worldwide.
"I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens," Obama said in a White House statement.
It was not immediately clear precisely how or where California-born ambassador Stevens was killed during the assault. Stevens was a key player when the Obama administration supported the anti-Gaddafi insurgency.
The Associated Press news agency said Ambassador Stevens and his staff went to the consulate in an attempt to evacuate the site after it was attacked.
However, witnesses said he was killed when angry Islamists attacked the consulate with rocket-propelled grenades before looting and torching the building.
A Libyan doctor who treated him in hospital said he died of severe asphyxiation, apparently from smoke inhalation, with no other injuries.
Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, said up to 10 Libyan security personnel were also killed or wounded in the violence.
Reports said a militia known as the Ansar al-Sharia brigade was involved in the attack, but the group has denied the claim, the BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli said.
Meanwhile, Libya apologised to the United States for the incident.
"We present our apologies to the United States, the American people and the entire world for what happened," Mohamed al-Megaryef, president of Libya's highest political authority the General National Congress, told reporters in the capital.
Libyan authorities were quick to point finger of blame at supporters of ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime and at al-Qaeda for the deadly attack.
"What happened yesterday coincided with September 11 and has a clear significance," he said implicating possible al-Qaeda hand in the attack.
While paying tribute to the slain envoy, however, US President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said US mission would not waver in its support for Libya's shaky attempt to build democratic rule.
The US Secretary of State said the killings should "shock the consciences" of people of all faiths but vowed that the actions of "a savage and small group" would not make Washington turn its back on Libya.
President Barack Obama ordered all flags on US government buildings to half mast to honour Americans slain in Libya.
A US marine anti-terrorism team is being sent to Libya to bolster security after the attack, a US defence source told reporters in Washington.
Meanwhile, the killing has prompted a global outrage.
The UN Security Council and UN leader Ban Ki-moon yesterday hit out at the killing of the US ambassador in Libya as "unjustifiable."
Russia also condemned the killing and said the incident underlined the need for Moscow and Washington to join their efforts in fighting extremism. China expressed shock at the killings.
Dhaka has also strongly condemned the terrorist attack.
In a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said Bangladesh rejects such cowardice and mindless killings in the name of religion or any other cause or ideology, and denounces terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
“We express our deepest sympathies to the bereaved families of US Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues,” the letter reads.
"Bangladesh stands by the US in this hour of grief and mourning," it added.
Condemnation of the violence also poured in from US ally Britain, France, Canada, Germany Italy. Nato and EU also condemned the “unjustifiable” attack.
Meanwhile, the Vatican yesterday slammed anti-Muslim "provocations" and the resulting "unacceptable violence" after the deadly attack.
"The serious consequences of unjustified offence and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are once again evident," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
Tuesday's attack came just hours after Islamists also stormed Washington's embassy in the Egyptian capital Cairo in a similar protest against the movie.
Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood called for nationwide protests tomorrow after the film sparked the deadly attack in Libya and furious protests in Cairo.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the film “innocence of Muslims” was made by an Israeli-American who describes Islam as a "cancer", reports AFP.
The film is said to have been produced by a 52-year-old US citizen from California named Sam Bacile, and promoted by an expatriate Egyptian Copt.
A trailer of the low-budget movie, which correspondents said is highly provocative and insulting to Muslims, has appeared on YouTube translated into Arabic.
The violence in Libya also threatened to spread to other Muslim countries yesterday.
By nightfall, 24 hours after the attacks in Egypt and Libya, police were firing teargas at angry demonstrators outside the US embassy in Tunisia.
In Kabul, the Afghan government gave orders for the video-sharing website YouTube to be closed to the public until the offending film was removed.
Dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip burned American flags and chanted "Death to America," reports AP.
Analysts said the attack will raise serious new concerns about stability in Libya and the ability of the new Libyan administration to maintain security.