Arrests Made in Libya in US Consulate Deaths

Posted September 13th, 2012 at 2:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Libyan authorities say they have made arrests in association with the killing of U.S. ambassador to Libya during a siege on an American consulate, as waves of anti-American protests against a film mocking Islam continued sweeping the Middle East and Southeast Asia Thursday.

Libyan officials said they were gathering evidence about Tuesday's attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staff members, but would not give further details.

The breakthrough in Libya comes as hundreds stormed the grounds of the U.S. embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a.

The mob torched a number of diplomatic vehicles as security guards used water cannons and warning shots in a bid to drive them out of the heavily fortified compound. A number of people were reportedly injured.

Protests against the amateur film made in the U.S. and mocking the Prophet Muhammad also took place in Cairo, Tehran, Baghdad and Dhaka. Demonstrators in Baghdad chanted “no to Israel” and “no to America” while burning an American flag. Protests are planned Friday in several countries, including Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the video “disgusting” and “reprehensible.”

“It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.”

During a Thursday appearance in Washington, she said the U.S. government had “absolutely nothing” to do with the video but added, there was no justification for responding to it with violence.

Still, comments from U.S. officials have done little to dissuade protesters.

Protests continued outside the U.S. embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, as police used tear gas against a crowd of about 200 youth.

Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, on an official visit to Brussels Thursday, slammed “attacks” on the Muslim prophet in the film, while also condemning the violence. He pledged to protect foreigners in Egypt.

Ronald E. Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Yemen, told VOA that protesters are not separating the production of the amateur movie from the American government.

“This movie is not United States. It is not the United States' government. It is a few crazy people that want to take shelter in our country to make trouble for our relations with the Muslim world.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told VOA that while the film was “objectionable and wrong,” mob violence is not acceptable.

“That does not in of itself justify, however, taking life and becoming violent and that's a different issue altogether. So I think linking the two is not right.”

The U.S. has been tightening security worldwide at its diplomatic installations.

Washington sent two Navy destroyers, a Marine Corps anti-terrorist security team and federal investigators to Libya to protect Americans and help hunt the suspected religious extremists who carried out the attack late Tuesday.

American intelligence agencies are examining the alleged involvement of pro-al Qaida Ansar al-Sharia militants, but cautioned they do not have solid evidence. On Wednesday, a brigade from the group denied planning the assault.

Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador to be killed on duty since 1979. He was a career foreign service officer and one of the most experienced American diplomats in the region.