Beirut Taxi Driver Suspected Of Sexually Assaulting And Strangling British Embassy Employee

Rebecca Dykes was last seen leaving a popular bar, telling colleagues she had an early flight home ahead of Christmas.

By Eric Shorey

British embassy worker Rebecca Dykes' body was found on the side of a road in Beirut, leading to the arrest of an as-yet-unnamed taxi driver. According to CNN, the taxi driver's bodily fluids were found on Dykes' body.

"The whole embassy is deeply shocked, saddened by this news. My thoughts are with Becky's family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss. We're providing consular support to her family & working very closely with Lebanese authorities who are conducting police investigation," tweeted Hugo Shorter, British Ambassador to Lebanon, following confirmation of Dykes' employment with the UK Department of International Development at the UK Embassy in Beirut.

Dykes was last seen leaving a bar named Demo, telling colleagues she had an early flight home ahead of Christmas. Demo is a popular nightlife attraction in the central area of the city. The area where her body was found has been described as dark and heavily wooded.

The suspect was taken into custody on Monday morning. He is thought to have picked Dykes up at the bar, after which he drove her to the forested area. He is believed to have sexually assaulted her before strangling her to death with a rope. 

Police had tracked the suspect's car through surveillance camera footage from the highway.

What effect the killing will have on relations between the UK and Lebanon is unclear. Police suggest the murder was not politically motivated. The suspect is a Lebanese citizen.

"Everyone is incredibly shocked. I know Beirut historically has been known for its brutal civil war... but Beirut is a very safe city," said Josie Ensor, the Daily Telegraph's correspondent in Beirut, who noted the shocked reaction of locals who heard the news of the murder. "It's a village city, a very tight-knit community, so when something happens to one person, it feels quite close."

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened ... We request that the media respect our privacy," said Dykes' family in a statement.

[Photo: Twitter]

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