British diplomat abducted and murdered in Beirut

Josie Ensor
Rebecca Dykes, 30, had been working for the Department for International Development

A young British embassy worker has been found murdered in the Lebanese capital Beirut after reportedly being strangled and reportedly sexually assaulted. 

Rebecca Dykes, 30, from London, who had been working for the Department for International Development, was killed after leaving a bar with friends on Friday night.

She had been out in the lively Gemmayzeh neighbourhood of Beirut for the farewell party of a colleague at the British embassy and had left just before midnight with a friend. 

The two then parted ways, leaving Miss Dykes to either walk or take a taxi to her home five minutes away. 

She had not been drinking as she had an early flight to catch home early the next morning for the Christmas holidays. 

She was abducted some time after and killed. Her body was found dumped on the Metn highway several miles away. 

Police sources told the Telegraph the first autopsy revealed the cause of death as strangulation, however a second postmortem examination is to be carried out later. 

They said they did not believe the attack to be politically motivated.

One friend told the Telegraph: "It's horrific. We had no idea what happened to her until we got a call today to go to the police station to give statements."

Miss Dykes had been working in Beirut as the programme and policy manager for the Department for International Development since January 2017.

Beirut killing

She had worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 2010, previously on Libya and Iraq.  She is thought to have grown up in Hong Kong, but attended Malvern St James Girls boarding school in Worcestershire before later studying anthropology at Manchester University and International Security and Global Governance from Birkbeck, University of London. 

Friends described her as "warm" and "clever". "She was just finding her feet in Beirut, she was just getting to know the city," on said. 

Miss Dykes spoke fluent Mandarin having worked as a teacher in China and Hong Kong for four years prior to joining the Foreign Office.

In a statement her family said: "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened."

Hugo Shorter, the British ambassador to Lebanon, said: "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 and working very closely with Lebanese authorities who are conducting police investigation."

A spokesman for the Department for International Development where she worked said: "Our thoughts are with Becky's family and friends at this very upsetting time.

"There is now a police investigation and the FCO (Foreign Office) is providing consular support to Becky's family and working with the local authorities."

Such incidents are rare in Beirut, despite the fragile security situation in the country.

Since the end of the country's 15-year civil war in 1990, Lebanon has become more stable. 

It saw record numbers of tourists this year and attracts increasing numbers of holidaymakers looking to enjoy its Mediterranean beaches and hot climate.