Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET: Two people have been killed and 29 others have been injured in protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, the Health Ministry said Friday as rage over an anti-Islamic video produced in California spread across much of the Muslim world.
Updated at 12:21 p.m. ET: U.S. and other Western interests were targeted by angry crowds across much of the Muslim world on Friday, as rage spread over an anti-Islamic video produced in California.
At least one of the people killed in Tunis were protesters, the Health Ministry said, according to the official news agency TAP. The injured, two of whom the Health Ministry said were in critical condition, included both protesters and police.
Tom Capra, Catherine Chomiak, Roxanne Escobales, Elizabeth Leist, Jim Miklaszewski, Ayman Mohyeldin, Amna Nawaz and Mike Taibbi; The Associated Press; and Reuters contributed to this report.
The unrest has been mostly directed at U.S. embassies, but other targets also came under attack, including:Earlier, demonstrators set fire to the American School in Tunis, which was closed Friday.
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who were briefed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday that it seemed clear that the Libya attacks were planned and premeditated. They cited the weapons carried by the attackers as the primary evidence. "From all that I've heard," the attacks Tuesday night "were not just some coincidental protest of this film, this anti-Muslim film," said Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. "They were a well-planned and professional terrorist attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi."
Clashes across region
InEgypton Friday, stones were hurled at police near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. "God is greatest" and "There is no god but God," one group chanted as police in riot gear fired tear gas and threw stones back at them in a street leading to the fortified U.S. Embassy.
NBC's Richard Engel in Egypt and NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin in Libya report on what might have triggered recent attacks on U.S. facilities.
Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist who is Egypt's first freely elected president, is having to strike a delicate balance, protecting the embassy of a major donor while also showing a robust response over the video.
"What happened a few days ago was a pernicious attempt to insult the Prophet Muhammad. It is something we reject and Egypt stands against. We will not permit that these acts are carried out," said Morsi during a visit to Italy.
"We cannot accept the killing of innocent people nor attacks on embassies. We must defend diplomats and tourists who come to visit our country. Killing people is forbidden ... by our faith," he said
The Muslim Brotherhood said on Twitter that it was canceling its call for nationwide protests about the film. However, it said it would still be present in Cairo's central Tahrir Square "for a symbolic protest against the movie."
While the violence in Egypt, which is heavily subsided by the United States,may prove to be the most politically significant, clashes and anti-U.S. demonstrations broke out Friday in number of Muslim countries:Cairo protesters have clashed with police daily since Tuesday, when angry young men scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy, tore down and burned the American flag, and replaced it with a black Islamist one. About 50 U.S. Marines have been sent to Yemen to provide additional security in the aftermath of Thursday's attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Defense Department officials told NBC News. The Marines, part of a Fleet Anti-Terror Security Team, are an identical unit to the one sent to Libya earlier this week.Cairo protesters have clashed with police daily since Tuesday, when angry young men scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy and tore down and burned the U.S. flag, replacing it with a black Islamist one.
Libyan officials said late Thursday that four people had been arrested over the killings of the Americans. The U.S. military has dispatched two destroyers toward the Libyan coast, in what an official said was a move to give the administration flexibility for any future action. The USS Laboon, was already in position and the other destroyer, the USS McFaul, was at least a day away, a U.S. official said.
In Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began in January 2011, a large cloud of black smoke rose around the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, where stone-throwing protesters and police waged a pitched battle. Angry demonstrators set fires to trees and smashed windows inside the embassy compound. In Sudan, protesters clambered over the walls of the compound of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum on Friday, prompting embassy guards to fire warning shots, a Reuters witness said.
Earlier, thousands of demonstrators trying to storm the British and German embassies clashed with police. Witnesses told Reuters that protesters got into the German Embassy, taking down the German flag and raising an Islamic one in its place.
Sudan's Foreign Ministry has criticized Germany for allowing a protest last month by right-wing activists carrying caricatures of the prophet and for Chancellor Angela Merkel giving an award in 2010 to a Danish cartoonist whose depictions of the prophet in 2005 triggered protests across the Islamic world.
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has faced pressure from Islamists who feel the government has given up the religious values of his 1989 Islamist coup.
A large demonstration against the Muhammad movie broke out at BMCI, a bank in Nouakchott, Mauritania, the U.S. Embassy said. It urged all U.S. citizens to avoid the areas around the bank and the Embassy. The UN multinational peacekeeping observer mission in the Sinai Peninsula was attacked Friday. Four people, believed to be peacekeepers from Colombia, were reported to have been injured. The multinational force observes the compliance of the Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. In Lebanon, where Pope Benedict XVI arrived Friday for a three-day visit, hundreds of people set light to a KFC restaurant in the northern city of Tripoli, witnesses said. At least one person was killed and 25 others were wounded, Lebanese officials said.
Locals watching the attack said some people were shouting, "We don't want the pope" and "No more insults (to Islam)."
In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, about 200 protesters vented their anger by chanting "death to Jews!" and "death to America!" in a largely peaceful protest outside the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy in Jakarta.
Protesters clash with security forces after setting a fire at the German Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, on Friday.
In Pakistan, protests cropped up in major cities such as Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, but Friday prayers seemed to have passed without major incidents of violence, NBC News reported.
About 200 demonstrators gathered Friday outside the U.S. Embassy inKuwait and hoisted banners.
InBangladesh, Islamists tried to march on the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka, and Iranian students protested in Tehran.
In Nigeria, where the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people this year in an insurgency, the government put police on alert and stepped up security around foreign missions.
Protesters in Afghanistanset fire to an effigy of Obama and burned a U.S. flag after Friday prayers in the eastern province of Nangarhar.
NBC's Michael Isikoff and Roger Cressey discuss Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, who is suspected of producing the controversial film degrading Islam.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that Washington had nothing to do with the crudely made film posted on the Internet, which she called "disgusting and reprehensible."
The amateurish production, titled "Innocence of Muslims" and originating in the U.S., portrays Muhammad as a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser.
For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is blasphemous, and caricatures or other characterizations have in the past provoked violent protests across the Muslim world.
Ambassador Stevens was killed Tuesday during a protest against the film when Islamists armed with guns, mortars and grenades staged military-style assaults on the Benghazi mission.
A Libyan doctor said Stevens died of smoke inhalation. U.S. information technology specialist and Air Force veteran Sean Smith also died at the consulate, while two other Americans were killed when a squad of security personnel sent from Tripoli to rescue diplomats from a safe house came under mortar attack.
Information technology specialist Sean Smith, an Air Force veteran, also died at the consulate, while two other Americans were killed when a squad of security personnel sent from Tripoli to rescue diplomats from a safe house came under mortar attack.
Ed Giles / Getty Images Contributor
Riot police throw rocks toward protesters during clashes near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and Tahrir Square on Friday.
Obama and Clinton will attend the return of the remains of the four Americans at Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland, the White House said. The return of the remains is scheduled to occur at 2:15 p.m. ET Friday.Clinton identified the two as Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, former Navy SEALS who died trying to protect their colleagues.