Obama apologizes in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1.

(Reuters) – Gunmen and security forces clashed at the U.S. consulate office in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday as the armed group protested over a film being produced in the United States, a security official said.

The incident followed a protest in neighboring Egypt where demonstrators scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy, tore down the American flag and burned it during a protest over what they said was a film that insulted Prophet Mohammad.

“There are fierce clashes between the Libyan army and an armed militia outside the U.S. consulate,” Abdel-Monen Al-Hurr, spokesman for Libya’s Supreme Security Committee, said.

“The U.S. consulate’s security guards inside the building fired at the militia as it was trying to enter and attack it.”

He said roads had been closed off and security forces were surrounding the building. He said the clashes were outside the consulate building.

“There is a connection between this attack and the protests that have been happening in Cairo,” Hurr said.

Reuters reporters at the scene said they could hear shooting and one explosion coming from the closed-off area. Rising smoke could also be seen.

A U.S. embassy source said there had been “an attack” on the diplomatic office in Benghazi, but gave no further details.

Update:

(BBC) — Militiamen in Libya have stormed the US consulate in Benghazi, the country’s second largest city.

Reports say they were protesting against a US-made film that is allegedly insulting to the Prophet Muhammad, and set fire to the building.

The building is said to have burnt down. It is thought nobody was in the consulate at the time.

Earlier, protesters in Egypt breached the wall at the US embassy in Cairo and tore down a flag over the film.

The film that sparked the protest is said to have been produced by US pastor Terry Jones and co-produced by some Egyptian Copt expatriates.

In the Cairo incident, the American flag, which was flying at half mast to mark the 9/11 attacks, was replaced by an Islamist banner.

Update II:

(Reuters) – An American staff member of the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi has died following fierce clashes at the compound, two Libyan security sources said on Wednesday.

“One American staff member has died and a number have been injured in the clashes,” Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr, spokesman for Libya’s Supreme Security Committee, said, adding that he did not know the exact number of injured.

Armed gunmen attacked the compound on Tuesday evening, clashing with Libyan security forces before the latter withdrew as they came under heavy fire. Reuters reporters on the scene could see looters raiding the compound, walking off with desks, chairs and washing machines.

HT: Nickarama

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