The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan officially banned the video-sharing website YouTube on Wednesday in an attempt to prevent Afghans from watching the controversial "Innocence of Muslims."
"We have been told to shut down YouTube to the Afghan public until the video is taken down," Aimal Marjan, general director of Information Technology at the ministry, told Reuters.
The film, now known as the "Muhammad film," reportedly instigated planned protests outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
John Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three embassy staff were killed as they rushed away from a consulate building in Benghazi, stormed by al Qaeda-linked gunmen. Protesters also attacked the U.S. embassy in Cairo.
While some media outlets speculated that the film sparked the powerful protests, CNN reported that the deadly assault in Benghazi on the U.S. Consulate was planned by the attackers who used the protests as a diversion.
According to CNN, the sources could not say whether the attackers instigated the protest or merely took advantage of it.
The consulate in Libya was one of several American diplomatic missions in the Middle East to fall victim to protests Tuesday following the release of a YouTube video that mocked Islam and depicted the Muslim Prophet Muhammad as a child molester, a womanizer and a ruthless killer.
Citing a U.S. official familiar with the attack on the consulate in Libya, CNN reported that a grenade set the building ablaze, leaving the Americans facing both a fire inside and attackers outside.
U.S. Ambassador Stevens and the three other Americans who died were separated from the rest of the staff while trying to escape to the roof of the building and succumbed to smoke inhalation, the senior official told CNN.
The official added that there were several "valiant but unsuccessful" attempts to get back into the building and rescue them.
U.S. officials announced on Wednesday that around 50 U.S. Marines from a rapid reaction force were headed to Libya in an effort to restore security to the consulate.
In Washington, President Barack Obama said the violence was completely unwarranted and vowed that "justice will be done."
"Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," he said. "But there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence -- none."
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