Two Libyan militiamen guarding the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi deny aiding the attackers. They say they initially fought back but fled when outnumbered.
BENGHAZI, Libya — Face down on a roof inside the besieged American diplomatic compound, gunfire and flames crackling around them, the two young Libyan guards watched as several bearded men crept toward the ambassador’s residence with semiautomatic weapons and grenades strapped to their chests.
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But nothing, they say, had prepared them for this. They had practiced for an attack by 10 or 15 people; now there were scores of professional-looking militants who moved methodically and used well-practiced hand signals. To make matters worse on the night of Sept. 11, instead of four militiamen who were supposed to be on guard, there were only two inside the compound.
The militiamen say they initially fought back, but when one attacker lobbed a grenade into their bungalow near the compound’s entrance, they fled to the roof without their radios and with only one magazine of ammunition between them. The American security officers were nowhere in sight.
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“I told them that we fired our weapons in the beginning but when we got to the roof, there were 100 enemies and two of us. We could do nothing.”
Under an agreement with U.S. officials — who describe the post in Benghazi as a “special mission” and not a consulate, as it’s often been called — four Feb. 17 fighters were supposed to be posted at the compound around the clock. They trained and worked closely with a rotating cast of American security personnel and slept in the sand-colored bungalow closest to the main entrance and the ambassador’s residence.