BENGHAZI: A young American teacher was gunned down in violence-torn Libya during his morning jog on Thursday (Friday in Manila), a week before he was to return home for the holidays, officials and the school said.
Ronnie Smith, a 33-year-old Texan, had been running in the central Al-Fwihet neighborhood of the eastern city of Benghazi when he was shot, security services spokesman Ibrahim al-Sharaa said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the murder, which comes 15 months after the United States (US) ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Libya’s second city.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama had been briefed and that “we look to the Libyan government to fully investigate this killing.”
In Tripoli, the foreign ministry denounced the “criminal act” and stated its “commitment to ensuring the security . . . of foreigners living in Libya.”
State news agency LANA added that the ministry had confirmed it would “take all necessary steps to arrest those responsible and bring them to justice.”
International School Benghazi director Adel al-Mansuri said Smith, who was married and the father of a two-year-old boy, had joined the faculty as a chemistry teacher late last year.
Mansuri said he had been set to return home next week for the year-end holidays.
He said Smith’s wife and son were not in Libya.
The director added, without providing details, that another American teacher at the school had been taken to a secure location until he can travel home.
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf expressed “condolences to the victim’s loved ones” and said “we are in contact with the family and are providing all appropriate consular assistance.”
US Ambassador Deborah Jones added her condolences, saying on Twitter: “My heart goes out to the family of the American school-teacher murdered today in Benghazi.
“Libya’s enemies will not succeed in driving away her friends,” she added.
International School Benghazi is one of the few foreign schools still operating in Libya, with most having shut down last year and this because of growing security problems.
Last year, the State Department warned US citizens against all but essential travel to Libya.