Militants attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, the State Department said Tuesday evening, the same day protesters yanked down the American flag at its Cairo embassy.
“We are working with the Libyans now to secure the compound. We condemn in strongest terms this attack on our diplomatic mission,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
The State Department did not immediately address conflicting reports on whether an American staff member had died in the Benghazi attack.
Egyptian protesters earlier scaled the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in protest over a video mocking the Islamic prophet Muhammad, claiming it had been made by Egyptian Coptic immigrants in the U.S.
In Benghazi, Libyans set fire to the consulate and fired into the air in protest over the film, the Associated Press reported. Looters grabbed desks, chairs and even washing machines from the empty compound, according to Reuters reporters on the scene.
The movie, reportedly created by an American named Sam Bacile, had been promoted by Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who spurred outrage and deadly protests across the Muslim world by burning a Koran. Jones said the movie was meant “to show the destructive ideology of Islam.”
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo said Tuesday that it condemned "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."
-- Paul Richter in Washington and Emily Alpert in Los Angeles