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British left weapons in U.S. consulate in Libya and now they're missing

| Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 8:28 p.m.

British diplomats withdrew from Benghazi in June after an assassination attempt on the their ambassador but reached an agreement with the United States to leave weapons and vehicles at the American compound.

Now that cache of weapons is missing amid signs that the Islamists suspected in the Sept. 11 attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans remain active, the London-based Daily Telegraph reported this week.

A British official confirmed to the Telegraph that the equipment is unaccounted for.

The issue of the missing weapons and vehicles was brought to light during testimony on Wednesday at a congressional hearing in Washington, where Lt. Col. Andrew Wood of the Utah National Guard, who headed a 16-member U.S. military security force in Libya, revealed that the British would return periodically to Benghazi and reclaim the weapons, then give them back to the Americans when they left the city.

The June 11 attack on British Ambassador Sir Dominic Asquith as he drove through Benghazi is among a list of 230 security incidents, 48 in Benghazi alone, that U.S. officials compiled to show how dangerous Libya had become.

Wood said that the withdrawal of British diplomats and Red Cross workers should have been a warning to U.S. diplomats.

“I almost expected the attack to come. We were the last flag flying, it was a matter of time,” he said.

Two of Asquith's security guards were wounded in the attack. In contrast to the Americans, who remained in Benghazi, the British determined that the city was too dangerous and closed their offices.

Before withdrawing, however, British officials reached an agreement with the U.S. consulate to leave their weapons and vehicles at the poorly guarded U.S. compound.

“We are working with the U.S. to establish what, if anything, has happened to this equipment,” British news agencies quoted an unnamed Foreign Office spokesman as saying.

Wood added that he had expected an attack to come sooner or later. “I almost expected the attack to come,” he said. “We were the last flag flying. It was a matter of time. ”

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