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POLITICS: PennAve

State Department confirms Texas teacher was killed in Benghazi

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Politics,White House,Education,Benghazi,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,State Department,Libya,Jay Carney

A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that a U.S. citizen who was teaching at an international school was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday but declined to provide further details out of respect for the person's privacy.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the victim was Ronald Thomas Smith II.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the victim's family, friends and loved ones,” she told reporters at the top of her regular briefing Thursday. “We are in contact with the family and are providing all appropriate consular assistance.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney also confirmed the death and said no individual group has come forward to claim responsibility.

“We look to the Libyan government to thoroughly investigate this killing,” Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.

Asked if U.S. officials had any idea what motivated the killing, Carney said only “we just don't have information on this right now.”

Earlier Thursday, the Associated Press reported that unknown assailants shot and killed Thomas Smith while he was jogging in Benghazi. Quoting a spokesman for the Al-Galaa hospital where he was taken, the AP said the body of a man from Texas who had suffered gunshot wounds was brought to the hospital Thursday.

A security official said the American taught chemistry at the city's international School, a Libyan-owned institute that follows an American curriculum.

NBC and CBS News reported the victim as Ronnie Smith, 33, of Texas.

The security official said the the American was jogging near the compound where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed by Islamic militants in September 2012.

Both Harf and Carney pointed to severe State Department travel warnings against Americans traveling in Libya, particularly in Benghazi. Harf also noted that the State Department doesn't keep track of all American citizens operating in Libya other than to encourage them to register online with the embassy so officials have a way to contact them if a need arises.

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