NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A deadly assault on a U.S. consulate in Libya was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Sunday, even as Libya’s president insisted the attackers spent months preparing and carefully choosing their date — the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens last Tuesday along with three other Americans appears to be a spontaneous demonstration that was taken over by extremists.
“We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned,” Rice said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “I think it’s clear there were extremist elements that joined and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libya-based extremists or al Qaeda itself, I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.”
But Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif disagrees. He has said it was a well planned attack.
“It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival,” Magariaf said Sunday.
Rice said it’s too early to say if security should have been tighter at the U.S. missions in Libya.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters demonstrating against the anti-Islam film torched a press club and a government building in northwest Pakistan on Monday, sparking clashes with police that left at least one person dead.
The attacks were the latest in a week-long wave of violence sparked by the low-budget film, which portrays Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester.
Many of the protests have targeted U.S. diplomatic posts throughout the Muslim world, forcing Washington to ramp up security in select countries.
Protesters have directed their anger at the U.S. government even though the film was privately produced and American officials have criticized it for intentionally offending Muslims.
The protests in Pakistan turned deadly Sunday when demonstrators clashed with police outside the U.S. consulate in Karachi. At least one protestor was killed. U.S. officials say all Americans inside the mission are safe.
In neighboring Afghanistan, hundreds of people burned cars and threw rocks at a U.S. military base in the capital, Kabul. Many in the crowd shouted “Death to America!” and “Death to those people who have made a film and insulted our prophet.”
In Jakarta, hundreds of Indonesians angered over the film clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy, hurling rocks and firebombs and setting tires alight outside the mission, marking the first violence seen in the world’s most populous Muslim country since international outrage over the film exploded last week.
In Sudan and Tunisia, the U.S. is evacuating non-essential personnel from embassies and urging American citizens to leave.
Protesters have also stormed the U.S. Embassies in Tunis and Yemen and held violent demonstrations outside other posts.
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