BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese authorities have arrested an Uber driver suspected of killing a British woman who worked for the U.K. Embassy in Beirut and whose body was found beside a motorway north of the city with a rope around her neck, officials said Monday.
In an emailed statement, Uber said it was working with authorities “to assist their investigation in any way we can.” Lebanese media reported that the suspect, a Lebanese citizen, was an Uber driver. Police have refused to confirm or deny those reports, or say whether the man had a criminal record.
The woman, identified by British media and friends as Rebecca Dykes, was found on Saturday. She was last seen at a bar in Beirut’s Gemayze district Friday night. Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said the driver picked her up and drove to a nearby neighborhood where she lived, but did not drop her off there.
Instead, the suspect drove the car to the site where Dykes’ body was later found. NNA said the man tried to sexually assault her, then strangled her with a rope. The police have not confirmed those details.
“We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victim and her family,” the Uber statement said.
The murder has shaken Lebanon, where such crimes, particularly against foreigners, are rare.
A police official said the woman’s murder was a “criminal act” and was not politically motivated, adding that the suspect had confessed to the killing.
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk praised the rapid arrest, saying it should boost confidence in Lebanon’s security agencies. He said authorities are concerned about the safety of “all foreigners residing in Lebanon.”
Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed the death of an embassy staffer who worked for the Department for International Development.
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.
“The whole embassy is deeply shocked and saddened by this news,” British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter said. “Our thoughts are with Becky’s family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss.”
The police official said authorities tracked the suspect through security cameras that showed his car driving from Beirut to the area where Dykes’ body was found, just north of the Lebanese capital.
“He was detained at his apartment,” the official said.
Earlier, a forensics official told The Associated Press that the woman was strangled with a rope and that authorities were investigating whether she was also sexually assaulted. Both the police and the forensics official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
Dykes’ friends said she was planning to fly home for Christmas on Saturday.
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