US says Libya attack was Islamist militant plot
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States (US) suspects a deadly attack on a US consulate in Libya was a well-planned assault by militants instead of a rampaging mob, US officials said on Wednesday, renewing concerns about the role of extremists in the wake of the Arab Spring.
The attackers appear to have used protests over an inflammatory film as a pretext to stage a major assault involving small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades that lasted several hours, overwhelming the security team at the consulate in Benghazi.
"That's the working hypothesis at the moment," said a senior US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"This was a complex attack," he told AFP. "They seemed to have used this (protest) as an opportunity." The gunmen, who opened fire on the American consulate and kept US security teams at bay for hours, may have had links to Al-Qaeda or been inspired by the terror network, officials said, stressing that investigators needed more time to gather facts.