Ronnie Smith: American schoolteacher killed in Benghazi, Libya, State Department official says

(CNN) -- An American schoolteacher was shot and killed in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, the U.S. State Department said Thursday.

The victim was identified as Ronnie Smith, according to the Facebook page of the school where he taught in Benghazi.

"We can confirm that a U.S. citizen was shot and killed in Benghazi," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. "We offer our condolences to the victim's loved ones. We are in contact with the family and are providing all appropriate consular assistance."

Citing respect for the privacy of those affected, Harf said that the State Department would have no further comment and referred media questions to Libyan authorities.

Earlier, CNN's Elise Labott spoke with an official who wished not to be named who also said that a U.S. citizen had been slain in Libya, but the official declined to identify the victim.

Reports, including a story filed by Reuters on Thursday, say that gunmen killed an American chemistry teacher working at an international school in the city of Benghazi.

Reuters cited medical and security sources.

While CNN is working to confirm details about the incident, CNN's Nic Robertson reported on air that the victim was a teacher whose students are very upset. The students, Robertson said, are posting messages on social media praising the teacher.

"He was doing his morning exercise when gunmen just shot him. I don't know why. He was so sweet with everyone," Adel al Mansouri, the director at the school in Benghazi, told Reuters.It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the killing, Reuters said. CNN is working to get details on the incident.

Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, is where militants attacked a U.S. diplomatic mission in September 2012, killing four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

More than two years after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi's regime, the Libyan government has been struggling to control the country, which is awash in weapons and armed groups. The security situation has deteriorated over the past year, especially in Benghazi, which was the cradle of the 2011 revolution.

The United States blames one of the armed groups, Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia, for the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

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