WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Wednesday strongly condemned the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff, calling it an "outrageous attack," and ordered stepped-up security at U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide.
"I have directed my administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe," Obama said in a statement.
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. diplomats were killed in a rocket attack on their car late on Tuesday, a Libyan official said, as they were rushed from a consular building stormed by militants denouncing a U.S.-made film insulting the Prophet Mohammad.
Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer, was identified as one of the diplomats killed, in a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The names of the two others were withheld while the government notified their families.
Stevens, a 21-year veteran of the foreign service, was one of the first American officials on the ground in Benghazi during the uprising against former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi was ousted by rebel forces backed by NATO air power in August 2011 and was killed in October after months as a fugitive.
"I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens," Obama said.
"Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice and partnership with nations and people around the globe and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives," he said.
Gunmen had attacked and burned the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, a center of last year's uprising against Gaddafi, late on Tuesday evening, killing one U.S. consular official. The building was evacuated.
The Libyan official said Stevens was being driven from the consulate building to a safer location when gunmen opened fire.
"While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants," Obama said.
Clinton also denounced the attack, calling it "vicious and violent."