WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday confirmed the U.S. side considers the attack that killed the country's ambassador to Libya a terrorist act, but an ongoing FBI investigation must determine which group was responsible for the deaths of ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Panetta said at a Pentagon news briefing that the reason it was considered a terrorist attack was because "a group of terrorists obviously conducted that attack on the consulate and against our individuals."
"What terrorists were involved I think still remains to be determined by the investigation. But it clearly was a group of terrorists who conducted that attack against that facility," said Panetta.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, who appeared alongside Panetta at the briefing, said the U.S. side has intelligence that al-Qaida-linked elements in eastern Libya were seeking to coalesce, but he was not aware of any specific threat to the consulate before the attack.
The White House has said the Obama administration considers the attack on the Benghazi consulate in Libya on Sept. 11 a terrorist attack.