the U.S. ambassador

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — The FBI director met with top Libyan officials on Thursday to discuss the probe into last year’s killing of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi where authorities are planning a curfew following an upsurge in violence, Libyan officials said.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11, 2012 in an attack that Washington officials suspect was carried out by militants linked to the al-Qaida terrorist group. There has been little news of progress in the investigation, and U.S. officials have complained about poor cooperation with governments in the region.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the visit, said FBI Director Robert Mueller discussed the case in Tripoli with senior officials, including the prime minister, justice minister and intelligence chief.

It is unclear when authorities plan to impose a curfew following a string of deadly attacks, assassinations of top security officials and other unrest in recent months. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan said on Wednesday that 18,000 new police recruits would be dispatched to the city to enforce the curfew.

Interior Minister Ashour Shaweil told reporters that when it starts, it will be enforced for five hours every night beginning at midnight. Several check points will be installed around the city, he said.

Authorities in Libya have been struggling to form unified army and police force since 2011 when former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was ousted and killed in a mass uprising that turned to armed conflict when citizens raised arms against Gadhafi’s forces.

In recent months, there has been a series of assassinations of top security officials and bombings of security headquarters in the northeastern city of Benghazi. Some blame Islamist extremists, but residents suspect more than one group is involved and that some of the violence is being carried out by those who have personal vendettas against officials who once served in Gadhafi’s police force.

A Pakistani protester holds a stone as others hang a flag at the entry of the U.S. consulate during a demonstration in Karachi Pakistan on Sunday. Hundreds of Pakistanis protesting clashed with police while thousands of others held peaceful demonstrations.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

KARACHI, Pakistan — Hundreds of Pakistanis protesting an anti-Islam film broke through a barricade near the U.S. Consulate in the southern city of Karachi on Sunday, sparking clashes with police in which one demonstrator was killed and more than a dozen injured.

In a move that could escalate tensions around the Arab world, the leader of the Hezbollah militant group called for protests against the movie, saying protesters should not only ‘express our anger’ at U.S. embassies but urge leaders to act.

The film, which denigrates Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, has sparked violent protests in many Muslim countries in recent days, including one in Libya in which the U.S. ambassador was killed. The U.S. has responded by deploying additional military forces to increase security in certain hotspots.

In a televised speech, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the U.S. must be held accountable for the film, which was produced in the United States. The U.S. government has condemned the film.

“The ones who should be held accountable and boycotted are those who support and protect the producers, namely the U.S. administration,” Nasrallah said. He called for protests on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

He urged protesters to call on their leaders to express their anger too.

“We should not only express our anger at an American embassy here or there. We should tell our rulers in the Arab and Muslim world that it is ‘your responsibility in the first place’ and since you officially represent the governments and states of the Muslim world you should impose on the United States, Europe and the whole world that our prophet, our Quran and our holy places and honor of our Prophet be respected,” he told his followers in a televised speech.

Nasrallah said he waited to speak out about the film until Sunday, when Pope Benedict XVI ended his three-day trip to Lebanon.

In Pakistan, police fired tear gas and water cannons at the protesters in Karachi after they broke through the barricade and reached the outer wall of the U.S. Consulate, police officer Mohammad Ranjha said. The protesters threw stones and bricks, prompting the police to beat back the crowd with their batons. The police and private security guards outside the consulate also fired in the air to disperse the crowd.

One protester was killed during the clash, said Ali Ahmar, spokesman for the Shiite Muslim group that organized the rally.

An official with the main ambulance service in the city, Khurram Ahmad, confirmed they carried away one dead protester and 18 others who were injured.

All Americans who work at the consulate, which is located in the heart of Karachi, were safe, Rian Harris, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, said.

Thousands more held peaceful demonstrations against the film in other parts of the country, including the eastern city of Lahore and the northwest city of Dera Ismail Khan.

The demonstration in Lahore was organized by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, believed to be a front organization for a powerful militant group blamed for attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 that killed over 160 people. The protesters shouted anti-U.S. slogans and burned an American flag.

“Our war will continue until America is destroyed!” shouted some of the protesters. “Dog, dog, America is a dog!” chanted others.

The head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, addressed the crowd and demanded the Pakistani government shut down the U.S. Embassy and all consulates in the country until the filmmakers are punished.

The protests were set off by a low-budget, crudely produced film called “Innocence of Muslims,” which portrays Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester.

A 14-minute excerpt of the film, which is both in English and dubbed into Arabic, has been available on YouTube, although . Some countries have cut access to the site.

The violence began Tuesday when mainly Islamist protesters climbed the U.S. Embassy walls in the Egyptian capital of Cairo and tore down the American flag from a pole in the courtyard.

Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, also was killed Tuesday along with three other Americans, as violent protesters stormed the consulate in Benghazi. President Barack Obama has vowed that the attackers would be brought to justice but also stressed that the U.S. respects religious freedom.

In a security shake-up following the attack on the consulate, the Libyan interior minister has fired three security officials in the eastern city, including the head of the Benghazi security sector, and the deputy interior minister in Benghazi, said senior security official Adel Rajouba. The decisions came following a government meeting and the three were fired because of “the lawlessness,” Rajouba said.

The intensity of the anti-American fervor initially caught U.S. leaders by surprise, but in the last several days the Obama administration has called for calm and urged foreign governments to protect American interests in their countries.

“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,” U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters Sunday.

It has been unclear how much of the violence was spontaneously triggered by the film and how much of it was spurred on by anti-American militants using it as a tool to grow and enrage the crowds.

Libya’s Interim President Mohammed el-Megarif said Sunday that the attackers who killed the U.S. ambassador in the country appeared to have spent months preparing and carefully choosing their date — the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He pointed to a second raid on a safe house. “All this indicates clearly that the attackers are well trained and well prepared and have planned this in advance,” he said in an interview.

But the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, brushed aside his assessment, saying evidence gathered so far indicated it was a spontaneous reaction to the anti-Islam video and not a premeditated or coordinated strike.

“It seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons,” said Rice, referring to the mortars and rocket-propelled grenades used in the attack.

Whether the attackers had ties to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups has yet to be determined, U.S. ambassador Susan Rice said, noting that the FBI has yet to complete its investigation.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Western works critical of Islam have triggered spontaneous unrest throughout the Middle East, she said, pointing to the novel “Satanic Verses” by British author Salman Rushdie and the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by a Danish newspaper in 2006.

A semiofficial religious foundation in Iran increased a reward it had offered for killing Rushdie to $3.3 million from $2.8 million, a hard-line Iranian newspaper reported Sunday, a move that appeared to be linked to the protests against the video.

Printed on Monday, September 17, 2012 as: Protests over prophet film continue

US envoy to United Nations says peace could evaporate if oil, border issues persist

A southern Sudanese man dons a shirt made of the new national flag during the Republic of South Sudan’s first national soccer match in the capital of Juba on Sunday, July 10, 2011. The game, played against Kenya, comes just one day after South Sudan declared its independence from the north following decades of costly civil war.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

JUBA, South Sudan — A day after the jubilation of South Sudan’s independence proclamation, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. warned Sunday of a “real risk” that the north-south peace process could unravel unless outstanding issues such as oil and border demarcations are quickly resolved.

Celebrations rang out Saturday in the South Sudan capital of Juba, the first day of independence after decades of civil war between Sudan’s north and south. Some 2 million people died in the most recent war, from 1983-2005.

On Sunday, the capital appeared hungover from its massive celebration, though small groups of people still sang and danced on street corners. The new country’s national anthem played from speakers.

The joy of independence day temporarily overshadowed the ongoing hostilities between the northern army and southern-allied forces in the northern state of South Kordofan and other violence along the north-south border. The south and north have yet to agree on a demarcated border, and the issue of oil remains contentious. The south has most of the oil but it must move it through the north’s pipes.

Dozens of world leaders joined a crowd tens of thousands strong in Juba on Saturday. The American delegation was led by Susan Rice, who told The Associated Press in a phone interview on Sunday that the U.S. government remains “focused on the urgency of resolving” the outstanding north-south issues.

Rice said the U.S. government would remain “very actively involved” in supporting negotiations between Khartoum and Juba. U.S. officials say they hope the talks will restart in the next week in a process led by an African Union panel.

“As wonderful a day as yesterday [Saturday] was ... we are mindful that even as those presidents pledge a commitment to peaceful and cooperative relations, that these issues are such that in the absence of resolution there is a risk of things beginning to disintegrate,” she added.

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes for his role in the conflict in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, attended Saturday’s ceremony and appealed for the two nations to work to “overcome the bitterness of the past.”

Rice dismissed the possibility of U.S. military intervention in South Kordofan, where northern aerial bombardments have driven tens of thousands of black Africans from the Nuba ethnic group into caves for protection from the raids.