U.S. Confirms Deaths Of U.S. Ambassador, Staff

Steve Inskeep reports on events in Libya. The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed overnight in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONSTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. All through the morning we've been getting more details about the attack against the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

In the city that was at the heart of the Libyan revolution, protesters killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. Here's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

SECRETARY HILLARY CLINTON: Yesterday, our U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings.

MONSTAGNE: Secretary of State Clinton, speaking this morning. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was among those killed and the State Department released the name of another, foreign service officer Sean Smith.

The attack was sparked in part by an American-made video that mocked the prophet Muhammad. It was circulating online and just recently in Arabic.

Protesters in Cairo also stormed the fortified walls of the U.S. embassy and pulled down an American flag, replacing it with a black one. But that protest didn't turn deadly.

President Obama condemned the violence this morning.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

MONSTAGNE: Before the president spoke, his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, criticized the president. He claimed the White House stood by a statement issued by the U.S. embassy in Cairo prior to any attacks condemning efforts to offend believers of all religions. Mitt Romney spoke to reporters this morning.

MITT ROMNEY: Possibly, the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values.

MONSTAGNE: Mitt Romney has now come under criticism for using this event as a political opportunity.

We'll give you more details on this story throughout the day on NPR News.

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