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Protesters destroy an American flag pulled down from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Outrage over an anti-Muslim video also spurred an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. One consulate employee died in the attack, an official said.
CAIRO--Mainly ultraconservative protesters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Egypt's capital Tuesday and brought down the American flag, replacing it with a black Islamist flag to protest a U.S.-produced film attacking the Prophet Muhammad. Hours later, armed men in eastern Libya also stormed the U.S. consulate there and set it on fire as anger spread.
A Libyan security official said one American consulate employee was shot dead and another wounded in the hand during the attack in the eastern city of Bengazi.
In Cairo, it was the first time ever that the U.S. Embassy has been breached and comes as Egypt is struggling to overcome months of unrest following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak's autocratic regime. U.S. officials said no Americans were reported harmed in the assaults in Cairo or Benghazi.
The unrest in Cairo began when hundreds of protesters marched to the downtown embassy, gathering outside its walls and chanting against the movie and the U.S.
"Say it, don't fear: Their ambassador must leave," the crowd chanted.
Dozens of protesters then scaled the embassy walls, and several went into the courtyard and took down the flag from a pole. They brought it back to the crowd outside, which tried to burn it, but failing that tore it apart.
The protesters on the wall then raised on the flagpole a black flag with a Muslim declaration of faith, "There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet." The flag, similar to the banner used by al-Qaida, is commonly used by ultraconservatives around the region.
The crowd grew throughout the evening with thousands standing outside the embassy. Dozens of riot police lined up along the embassy walls but did not stop protesters as they continued to climb and stand on the wall--though it appeared no more went into the compound.
The crowd chanted, "Islamic, Islamic. The right of our prophet will not die." Some shouted, "We are all Osama," referring to al-Qaida leader bin Laden.
A group of women in black veils and robes that left only their eyes exposed chanted, "Worshippers of the Cross, leave the Prophet Muhammad alone."
By midnight, the crowd had dwindled. The U.S. Embassy said on its Twitter account that there will be no visa services today because of the protests.
The protest was sparked by outrage over a video being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. A 14-minute trailer of the movie, posted on the social website YouTube in an original English version and another dubbed into Egyptian Arabic, depicts Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman in an overtly ridiculing way, showing him having sex and calling for massacres.