|U.S. deploys extra troops overseas as protests continue to spread||
The deployment was revealed as the Obama administration ordered an evacuation of all but emergency staff from Tunisia and Sudan. It advised citizens not to visit either country until anger over a blasphemous movie insulting the Prophet Muhammad has died down.
Protests have spread to at least 20 Muslim nations and were reported in Pakistan on Sunday, leaving U.S. officials anxious to prevent a repeat of last week's tragedy in Libya, where the U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three staff were killed at the American consulate in Benghazi. The Pentagon has “deployed forces to a number of areas in the region”, said the Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta. “I think that we have to continue to be very vigilant because I suspect that ... these demonstrations are likely to continue over the next few days, if not longer.”
His comments came as debate continued at home and abroad over the events that led to Stevens' murder. In an interview with CBS on Sunday, Libya's President, Mohammed Magarief, blamed the attack on foreign terrorists, saying his government has arrested 50 suspects with links to Al-Qaeda.
“It was definitely planned by foreigners – by people who entered the country a few months ago,” he said. “They were planning criminal acts since their arrival.” The security situation remained “difficult” for Americans in Libya, Magarief added, noting: “It may be better for them to stay away for a little while.”
Last week's deaths occurred when militants fired on the consulate with rocket-propelled grenades. At the weekend, Al-Qaeda issued a statement celebrating the attack, calling it “a great event” and urging supporters to “come together in one goal, which is to expel the embassies of America from the lands of the Muslims”.
Back in Washington, the tragedy has spawned political debate. The White House continues to deny reports, first published by The Independent, that the State Department received “credible information” about a potential attack on the consulate two days before it occurred. However, CNN reported on Sunday that a Libyan security official, Jamal Mabrouk, did indeed meet U.S. officials in Benghazi last week and warned them about deteriorating security. The affair might have already damaged Barack Obama's re-election prospects, were it not for a botched reaction by Mitt Romney. The Republican presidential candidate was widely mocked for holding a press conference on Wednesday at which he said the President's reaction to the murder had influenced an “apologetic” Twitter post by a junior diplomat. It later emerged that the tweet was sent several hours before Stevens died.
(Source: The Independent)
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