The State Department acknowledged Monday the existence of video that shows U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens being pulled from the burning remains of a U.S. diplomatic compound that was attacked by militants in eastern Libya last week.
“I’ve heard about this video,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who implored the U.S. and international news organizations to consider that it would be “very difficult to see” such footage circulating in the world’s media.
Mrs. Nuland said she was not in a position to confirm whether the video shows Stevens before or after his death, but that it is part of an investigation by Libyan and U.S. officials into the events surrounding the attack on the outpost.
“Clearly, this video and whether or not it’s authentic and whether or not it has — it’s an accurate representation of what happened, whether or not it is Ambassador Stevens, is going to be part and parcel of this investigation,” she said.
While Libyan officials last week said several militants had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack, U.S. officials so far have offered few details of the investigation.
Stevens and three other Americans were killed late Tuesday when protesters stormed the U.S. compound in Benghazi. The protesters presumably were angered by a film made in the U.S. that denigrates Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
In telephone interviews with The Washington Times last week, several residents in Benghazi said there had been two distinctly different groups involved in the assault on the U.S. diplomatic outpost.
The residents described a scene that began as a relatively peaceful demonstration against the film. The situation did not turn violent until a group of heavily armed militants showed up and “hijacked” the protest, the residents said.
The original group of protesters was joined by a separate group of men armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, the residents said.
Witnesses in Benghazi told the Associated Press on Monday that Stevens was still breathing when Libyan civilians roamed freely through the U.S. compound after the attack.
Fahd al-Bakoush, a freelance videographer who was among Libyan civilians roaming through the compound, said several men pulled a seemingly lifeless body from a room.
He was breathing and his eyelids flickered, Mr. al-Bakoush said. “He was alive,” he said. “No doubt. His face was blackened and he was like a paralyzed person.”
Video taken by Mr. al-Bakoush and posted on YouTube shows Stevens being carried out of a dark room through a window with a raised shutter by a crowd of men.
“Alive, Alive! God is great,” the crowd erupts, while someone calls to take Stevens to a car.
The next scene shows Stevens lying on a tile floor, with one man touching his neck to check his pulse.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.
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