A State Department worker was killed and another injured Tuesday in separate attacks on a U.S. Consulate in Libya and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo by hard-line Islamic protesters angry about an anti-Islamic film.
In the Libya attack, armed men stormed and burned the American Consulate in the eastern city of Bengazi, fatally shooting one worker and injuring another.
Anti-American Islamists clambered over the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and ripped down the U.S. flag, replacing it with a black flag bearing the Islamic inscription “There is no God but Allah,” commonly flown by al Qaeda.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who confirmed the death, condemned “in the strongest terms” the attack.
“We are heartbroken by this terrible loss,” she said.
There were warnings late Tuesday of the potential for more attacks on Americans.
“There is a high threat of additional attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world,” warned IntelCenter, a private-sector firm that tracks jihadi messaging for clients including U.S. agencies.
“Countries with organized jihadi rebel groups face the highest threat of organized, armed assaults over the next 72 hours,” the firm’s CEO, Ben Venzke, said in a statement Tuesday night.
The protesters — most of them hard-line Islamists of the Salafist movement — stormed the embassy chanting, “Say it, don’t fear: Their ambassador must leave” as part of a rally sparked by anger about a film deemed offensive to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad that reportedly was produced by expatriate members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority in the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday that the film fueling the anger, “Innocence of Muslims,” was directed and produced by Sam Bacile, a 52-year-old real-estate developer from Southern California.
U.S. officials late Tuesday described the situation in Libya as “fluid.”
“We are working with the Libyans now to secure the compound. We condemn in strongest terms this attack on our diplomatic mission,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
In Cairo, a dozen or so demonstrators scaled the embassy’s walls, tore the U.S. flag from a pole in the courtyard and tossed it to the crowd. Unable to burn the banner, they ripped it apart in a frenzy.
Protesters clinging to the wall surrounding the compound then raised their black flag with the Muslim declaration of faith.
Egyptian police intervened in the demonstration and dispersed the crowd without violence.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said it would take “all necessary security measures to protect all embassies, diplomatic missions and their staff.”