Washington: The attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that claimed lives of four Americans might have been planned by al-Qaeda-inspired extremists, US officials claimed today.
The US Ambassador to Libya, J Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed last night when the consulate was attacked by demonstrators protesting an anti-Islam film made by an Israeli-American.
The assault in Benghazi came after a protest outside the US embassy in Egypt over the film.Republican lawmaker Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said there was strong evidence that the attack was planned.
“This was a well-armed, well-coordinated event. It had both indirect and direct fire, and it had military maneuvers that were all part of this very organised attack,” Rogers said in an interview on MSNBC.
A Washington Post report quoted senior US officials and Middle East raising questions over the motivation of the attack, poiting out the use of a rocket-propelled grenade.
Notably, the attack followed an al-Qaeda call to avenge the death of a senior Libyan member of the terrorist network, the paper said quoting analysts.
President Barack Obama ordered security to be beefed up at all diplomatic posts overseas.
The Defence Department dispatched two Marine antiterrorism security teams to Libya to reinforce security there. Senator John F Kerry, who received a preliminary briefing from US officials on the attack, said all four of the dead were inside a room in the consulate compound, where they had been trying to organise an evacuation.
“I think they were planning to take the place, no matter who was there,” Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was quoted as saying.
Kerry said there may have been a plan to attack the consulate but that it was unlikely to have been aimed at Stevens, who was there by “happenstance” after stopping by the consulate during a “side trip” in eastern Libya, the paper said.
The paper said all four of the dead were State Department civilians and about half a dozen Americans were wounded in the attack.