Gunmen stormed the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday and set it on fire following a protest against a film being produced in the United States deemed insulting to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, the Associated Press reported.
Le Monde reports the US Ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and 3 others were killed in the attack, according to senior Libyan officials. The US has not yet confirmed this information, however.
In a press statement, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Tuesday indicated that one US diplomat had been killed in the assault. "We are heartbroken by this terrible loss," she wrote. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack."
The incident happened hours after ultra-conservative Islamists in Cairo scaled the wall of the US consulate over the same film.
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Reuters reported that armed men and security forces clashed outside the consulate building in Benghazi, but it did not say if the men had entered the building.
Roads in the area had been closed off.
Abdel-Monen Al-Hurr, spokesman for Libya's Supreme Security Committee, said the protests in Libya and neighboring Egypt were linked.
"There is a connection between this attack and the protests that have been happening in Cairo," Hurr said. "They are trying to take advantage of the security situation in Libya and cause more instability in the country."
CBS News reported US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: "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."
Sam Bacile, an American citizen who said he produced, directed and wrote the two-hour film told CBS News the film was produced in English, and he isn't sure who dubbed it in Arabic. He said he was surprised over the reaction.
"The main problem is I am the first one to put on the screen someone who is (portraying) Muhammad. It makes them mad," Bacile said. "But we have to open the door. After 9/11 everybody should be in front of the judge, even Jesus, even Muhammad."
The attacks on the US consulates coincided with the 11th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Egyptian activist Wael Ghoneim warned on his facebook page that the protests would “not be understood by the American public as a [protest] over the film” and instead would be “received as a celebration of the crime that took place on September 11,” Al Jazeera reported.
The AP said that the film, which it didn't name, "show[s] the prophet having sex and question[s] his role as the messenger of God's words."