US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.—File Photo

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday the killing of the US envoy to Libya and three others by “a small and savage group” should “shock” people of all faiths around the world.

Paying tribute to Ambassador Chris Stevens and his American co-workers killed when militants attacked the US mission in Benghazi, the top US diplomat vowed the United States would not turn its back on Libya as it builds a new future.

“This is an attack that should shock conscience of people of all faiths around the world,” Clinton said in a somber statement at the State Department.

“We condemn in the strongest terms, this senseless act of violence, and we send our prayers to the families, friends and colleagues of those we’ve lost.” She praised the work of Stevens who was appointed ambassador to Libya in May, after the toppling of former dictator Moammer Gaddhafi.

“He risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to build a better Libya,” she said.

Clinton said she had asked herself “how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?”

“We must be clear-eyed even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group. Not the people or government of Libya,” Clinton said, adding that Stevens and his team had been welcomed across Libya as “friends and partners.”

She stressed that during Tuesday’s attack Libyans had fought to defend the mission, and some were wounded. Others carried Stevens’s body to the hospital, and “they helped rescue and lead other Americans to safety.”

“The friendship between our countries, born out of shared struggle, will not be another casualty of this attack,” Clinton said, vowing that those behind the attack would be brought to justice.

“A free and stable Libya is still in America’s interests and security, and we will not turn our back on that.”

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