Police in Lebanon have confirmed that they have arrested a Lebanese national in connection with the brutal murder of British embassy worker Rebecca Dykes.
Security sources in the country said that the man, identified only by the initials T.H, was arrested at 3am on Monday morning, and is reported to be a local taxi driver.
The Foreign Office also confirmed that an arrest had been made.
Ms Dykes was strangled with a rope and found dead by the side of a road in the east of Lebanon capital Beirut, police said.
An official said the suspect confessed that he killed Ms Dykes and that the murder was a “criminal act” and not politically motivated.
Authorities looking into her exact cause of death are investigating whether Ms Dykes, who had been due to fly home for Christmas, was sexually assaulted.
According to reports she had been at a colleague’s leaving party in the Gemmayzeh district of Beirut on Friday night.
Ms Dykes’s family said they have been left “devastated” following her death, while embassy staff are said to be shocked.
A family spokesman said: “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 as we come together as a family at this very difficult time.”
Ms Dykes was working as a programme and policy manager with the Department for International Development and as policy manager with the Libya team at the Foreign Office (FCO), according to her LinkedIn page.
She had previously worked as an Iraq Research Analyst with the FCO.
According to BBC News, it is believed Ms Dykes spent Friday evening at a going-away party thrown for a colleague in Gemmayzeh before leaving around midnight.
The trendy area in east Beirut is known for its bars, restaurants and nightlife and is popular with the city’s younger residents and tourists.
British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter said everyone at the embassy was “deeply shocked, saddened by this news”.
He added: ”My thoughts are with Becky’s family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss.
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.
— Hugo Shorter (@HugoShorter) December 17, 2017
Ms Dykes, a University of Manchester graduate, also had a masters in International Security and Global Governance from Birkbeck, University of London.
She was a former pupil of Malvern Girls’ College and Rugby School and had spent time at a Chinese International School.
A Department for International Development spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with Becky’s family and friends at this very upsetting time.
“There is now a police investigation and the FCO is providing consular support to Becky’s family and working with the local authorities.”
The FCO advises against all travel to southern suburbs of Beirut except the main Naqoura-Tyre-Saida (Sidon)-Beirut highway.
Visitors to Lebanon are warned of potential risks posed by political unrest and terrorism and a “moderate” risk of petty and violent crime.
The advice urges visitors not to use shared taxis or taxis hailed on the street and only use cabs from recognised firms.