British diplomat found dead by side of road in Lebanon
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British diplomat found dead by side of road in Lebanon

Embassy staffer Rebecca Dykes believed to have been strangled to death in Beirut, sexual assault being investigated

British embassy worker Rebecca Dykes, found dead by the side of a road in Beirut, Lebanon, December 16, 2017. (Family handout photo)
British embassy worker Rebecca Dykes, found dead by the side of a road in Beirut, Lebanon, December 16, 2017. (Family handout photo)

BEIRUT — A British national was found strangled by the side of the road east of the Lebanese capital Beirut and authorities are investigating whether she was also sexually assaulted, Lebanese officials said Sunday.

Britain’s Foreign Office in London confirmed the death of the diplomat, named by British media and her friends as Rebecca Dykes. It said it was providing support to the family and declined to provide further details. A spokesperson at the embassy in Beirut also confirmed the death, but did not name the diplomat.

In a statement released by the Foreign Office, the family requested that the media respect their privacy “at this very difficult time.”

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened,” her family said.

Friends said she was supposed to fly home for Christmas that day.

“The whole embassy is deeply shocked and saddened by this news. Our thoughts are with Becky’s family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss,” British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter said in a statement.

“We are providing consular support to Becky’s family and working very closely with the Lebanese local authorities who are conducting the police investigation,” he said.

A Lebanese security official confirmed that the body of a woman was found by the side of a road east of Beirut early Saturday and that she was later identified as a staffer at the British embassy in Lebanon.

A forensic official told The Associated Press that authorities are investigating the exact cause of the woman’s death, and whether she was sexually assaulted. He said the woman, believed to be 30-years-old, had been strangled with a rope.

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