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Protesters respond to film denouncing Islam
J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans have been killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi by protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad, U.S. officials say.
The White House issued a statement this morning confirming the death of Stevens and three other Americans.
"I strongly condem the outrageous attack on a dip facility at Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens," President Obama said in the statement. "Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers."
The protesters were firing gunshots and rocket propelled grenades late Tuesday, and they burned down the U.S. consulate in the city in Eastern Libya, the Associated Press reports. Stevens had served as envoy to the Libyan Transitional National Council in Libya before being appointed ambassador last spring.
The president added that while the U.S. "rejects efforts to denigrate the religious believes of others, we muts all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants."
Protesters have also scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo Tuesday, tearing an American flag and replacing it with an Islamic banner, according to AP.
The film, titled "Innocence of Muslims," was written and produced by Sam Bacile, a 56-year-old California real estate developer who identifies as an Israeli Jew, AP reports.
Bacile, who is in hiding, spoke to the Associated Press by phone and told a reporter that the film was meant to be a political statement condemning Islam.
Video introducing Ambassador Stevens posted by U.S. Government in May 2012