By Amie Parnes and Daniel Strauss - 09/12/12 03:05 PM EDT
President Obama on Wednesday strongly condemned “in the strongest terms” an “outrageous and shocking” attack in Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other staffers.
Speaking in the Rose Garden beside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama vowed to work with the Libyan government to “bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.”
"Make no mistake," Obama said, "justice will be done."
The attack occurred after an angry mob swarmed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and set it ablaze. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, two security officials and a consulate worker died of suffocation as they were trying to evacuate the building.
The impetus for the attack appeared to be anger over a U.S.-financed film that was perceived as attacking Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.
The president said he has ordered increased security at embassies around the world in response to the attack, and in his brief comments before heading to the State Department, reiterated that the United States “has been a nation that respects all faiths.”
“We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” he said. "There is no justification for this senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts."
A White House official the president would meet with State Department employees Wednesday to express his solidarity with them and thank them for their service.
Obama spoke moments after his opponent in the presidential race, Mitt Romney, accused the president of having “demonstrated a lack of clarity as to foreign policy” and sending “mixed signals.”
Obama did not directly respond to Romney. But he maintained that the attack “will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya” that were forged when a U.S.-led coalition helped rebels oust the regime of Moammar Gadhafi last year.
He also praised Stevens for his service abroad — particularly in recent months, as violent outbreaks persisted.
“He worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there,” Obama said. “He was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps. Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.”
— This story was last updated at 12:10 p.m.