10 major embassy attacks

The U.S. and the interim Libyan government have condemned a violent attack on the U.S. Embassy in the western Libyan city of Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. Here's a look at some of the most significant attacks on Western embassies since the 1970s.
Iranian students climb over the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979. (Getty)

The U.S. and the interim Libyan government have condemned a violent attack on the U.S. Embassy in the western Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

There is uncertainty about the exact sequence of events, but news sources report that militants fired rockets at an embassy vehicle.

The attack was motivated by outrage over Innocence of Muslims, a low-budget film by a Californian that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad by depicting him as a womanizer and a fraud. 

Here’s a look at some of the most significant attacks on Western embassies since the 1970s.

U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 13, 2011

Seven people were killed and 19 wounded after Taliban insurgents with suicide vests and rocket-propelled grenades launched a co-ordinated attack on both the U.S. Embassy and the NATO headquarters in the Afghan capital.

The ensuing firefight with NATO and Afghan troops lasted for 19 hours and resulted in the death of nine Taliban members.

U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, Sept. 17, 2008

Nineteen people died and 16 were injured after a group of militants, dressed as police officers and armed with rocket-propelled grenades, rifles and car bombs, stormed the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital.

Islamic Jihad of Yemen, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility.

Indian Embassy bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 7, 2008

An Afghan police officer walks through the site of a suicide attack near the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 8, 2008. (Farzana Wahidy/Associated Press)

Fifty-eight people were killed when a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden vehicle up to the Indian Embassy and detonated. Most of the victims were locals, although two senior Indian officials were among the dead.

It is thought that the impetus for the attack was India’s support of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and India’s recognition of Hamid Karzai’s national government. The Taliban, however, denied responsibility for the attack.

Danish Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 2, 2008

A massive car bomb near the Danish Embassy in Islamabad killed six people and injured dozens more.

Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombing, citing anger over cartoons published in September 2005 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that depicted the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons had been reprinted in Danish papers in February 2008.

Pakistan had been the site of several large-scale protests against the cartoons. Al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri called for revenge attacks on Danish targets.

U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, Feb. 21, 2008

Several hundred demonstrators attacked the U.S. Embassy compound in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Hours later, a charred body was found inside a torched office at the embassy.

The swarm of rioters had broken away from a massive rally held earlier in the day to protest against Washington's recognition of Kosovo's declaration of independence.

Crowds of masked young men broke into the compound and used metal bars to smash into the first floor of the building. A few demonstrators climbed the building and set the U.S. flag on fire as others used a door to ram the metal-barred windows.

U.S. Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 6, 2004

Five consular employees were killed and four other local staff members were injured after militants stormed the U.S. consulate. Saudi police killed four of the assailants, who were members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

In an internet post claiming responsibility for the attack, AQAP wrote, "this operation comes as part of several operations that are organized and planned by al-Qaeda as part of the battle against the crusaders and the Jews, as well as part of the plan to force the unbelievers to leave the Arabian Peninsula."

U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Aug. 7, 1998

A U.S. soldier stands guard in front of the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Aug. 8, 1998. (Amr Nabil/AFP/Getty)

In a co-ordinated operation, car bombs exploded outside the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Aug. 7, 1998. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. About 5,000 were injured.

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the leader of al-Qaeda in East Africa, had a $5 million US bounty on his head for allegedly planning the attacks. In June 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly confirmed his death in Somalia.

Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 17, 1992

A suicide bomber driving a pickup truck filled with explosives breached the Israeli Embassy in downtown Buenos Aires and detonated, killing 29 people — mainly children in a nearby school building — and injuring 242.

The group Islamic Jihad took responsibility, claiming the attack was payback for Israel's assassination of Hezbollah official Abbas al-Musawi the month before.

Messages intercepted by the U.S. National Security Agency revealed that Iran had knowledge the attack was coming.

U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, Apr. 18, 1983

A Hezbollah suicide bomber drove a van up to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people, including at least 17 Americans. The act also destroyed the Middle East bureau of the CIA.

That same year, an attack on the Beirut headquarters of American and French forces killed 298 people. The United States withdrew all diplomats from Beirut in September 1989 and did not reopen its embassy until 1991.

U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Nov. 4, 1979

Islamic students and other militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking hostages and launching a diplomatic crisis. They were demanding extradition of the Shah of Iran from the United States, where he had gone to seek medical treatment.

Fifty-two hostages were held for 444 days. A failed rescue attempt resulted in the deaths of eight U.S. soldiers. Thirteen hostages were released about two weeks after the crisis began, and another was freed months later.

After the signing of the Algiers Accord on Jan. 21, 1981, the day of Ronald Reagan's inauguration as U.S. president, the remaining hostages were released.

With files from The Associated Press