Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Libyans tried to rescue US envoy

US Ambassador Chris Stevens was still alive when he was pulled from the US Embassy in Benghazi, witnesses say (Mary Commanday/AP)

US Ambassador Chris Stevens was still breathing when Libyans stumbled across him inside a room in the American Consulate in Benghazi, a witness says.

Fahd al-Bakoush, a freelance videographer, was among the Libyan civilians roaming freely through the consulate after gunmen and protesters rampaged through it last Tuesday night. Mr Al-Bakoush said he heard someone call out that he had tripped over a dead body.

A group of people gathered as several men pulled the seemingly lifeless form from the room. They saw he was alive and a foreigner, though no one knew who he was, he said.

"He was alive," he said. "No doubt. His face was blackened and he was like a paralysed person."

Video taken by Mr al-Bakoush and posted on YouTube shows Mr Stevens being carried out of a dark room through a window with a raised shutter by a crowd of men. "The man is alive. Move out of the way," others shout. "Just bring him out, man," and "Move, move, he is still alive!"

"Alive, Alive! God is great," the crowd erupts, while someone calls to take Mr Stevens to a car.

The next scene shows Mr Stevens lying on a tile floor, with one man touching his neck to check his pulse.

The video has been authenticated since Mr Stevens' face is clearly visible and he is wearing the same white t-shirt seen in authenticated photos of him being carried away on another man's shoulders, presumably moments later. Two colleagues of Mr al-Bakoush who also witnessed the scene confirmed that he took the footage.

Mr Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the consulate, part of a wave of assaults on US diplomatic missions in Muslim countries over a low-budget film made in the United States that denigrates the Prophet Mohammed.

Last week, the doctor who treated Mr Stevens said he was nearly lifeless when he was brought by Libyans, with no other Americans around, to the Benghazi hospital where he worked. He said Mr Stevens had severe asphyxia from the smoke and that he tried to resuscitate him with no success. Only later did security officials confirm it was Stevens.

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