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The US Ambassador to Libya was killed on September 11, 2012, when Islamist militants stormed a lightly defended United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Apart from the US diplomat, three other Americans were killed in the attacks. The militants were armed with grenades and guns. This is the first time since 1979 that an American ambassador had died in a violent assault while in office. The American ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, went missing soon after the start of the commencement of fight to control the mission. His corpse was located only the next morning when he was found dead at a Benghazi hospital, officials say.

President Obama condemned the attacks on the American embassy and vowed to bring the assailants to justice. He also ordered security to be stepped up at all American diplomatic outfits. He called the incident an “outrageous attack”. Initially American officials had speculated that the attack was orchestrated by a mob protesting a film that insulted the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Within a fortnight, however, it became evident that the assault and killings were coordinated acts of terrorism. The Libyan administration condemned the attack, extended condolences, and promised to help track down the killers. The US sent marines to guard the embassy following another attack on September 12, 2012.

Occurring in an election year, the attacks caused much outrage back home in the US. The presidential candidates and the two parties took turns in blaming each other over a number of issues and the killing featured prominently in the presidential debates.

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