Libyan authorities have arrested about 50 people in connection to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which the US ambassador and three embassy staff were killed, Libya’s parliamentary chief said.
“The number reached about 50,” Mohammed al-Megaryef, president of the Libyan National Congress, told CBS News in an interview on Sunday.
Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three other US citizens died after gunmen attacked the consulate and a safe house refuge in the eastern city of Benghazi with rocket-propelled grenades and set it on fire.
“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,” he told CBS.
“These ugly deeds, criminal deeds, directed against late Ambassador Chris Stevens and his colleagues do not resemble in any way, in any sense, the aspirations, feelings of the Liybans toward the United States and its citizens,” he said.
‘Protect our people’
Meanwhile, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, saidon Sunday talks shows that preliminary information indicated that the consulate attack was not planned.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has said in a statement the attack was in revenge for the killing of the terror network’s deputy leader Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi in a drone strike in June.
Colonel Ramadan El-Dressi told Al Jazeera that an initiative to invite civilians and militia members to hand in weapons obtained during Libya’s 2011 conflict had been rescheduled for next Friday.
The event was organised by local NGOs with the support of the military and the government, he said, to try to prevent further violent attacks.
“We need support from the government to protect our people from these extremists,” El-Dressi said. “We did not overcome 42 years of dictatorship just to let another form of terrorism take over our country.”
— With additional reporting by Yasmine Ryan