A female British diplomat has been found dead after being strangled in Beirut and officials are investigating whether she was sexually assaulted before the attack.
Rebecca Dykes, 30, was found dead on Saturday close to the Metn expressway, in Lebanon’s capital, reports Al Jadeed TV.
Police are tonight probing whether Ms Dykes, from London, had been raped before she was found dead.
Ms Dykes, a former public schoolgirl, started working for the government in 2010 and she had been at a bar in the centre of the city on Friday night before she was attacked after midnight.
It is believed she was abducted minutes after she left the bar.
Her body has reportedly been transferred to the Dahr al-Bashak Hospital for a post-mortem examination.
A security source said she was discovered with a ‘piece of string around her neck’.
Another official involved in the investigation said the crime did not appear to be ‘politically motivated’.
The Lebanese official said her body was found ‘on the side of the Emile Lahoud road’, just north of Beirut.
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.’
Al Jadeed TV reports Ms Dykes had been raped and an official said investigators are probing whether she was sexually assaulted.
British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter, said: ‘The whole embassy is deeply shocked and saddened by this news.
‘Our thoughts are with Becky’s family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss.
‘We are providing consular support to Becky’s family and working very closely with the Lebanese local authorities who are conducting the police investigation.’
Friends said she was flying home for Christmas Saturday.
Ms Dykes joined the Department for International Development and had been working as a programme and policy manager based in Lebanon since January.
Before she moved to Beirut she worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the Libya team as a policy manager. She had previously worked as an Iraq Research Analyst with the FCO.
The University of Manchester graduate also had a masters in International Security and Global Governance from Birkbeck, University of London.
She also spent four years teaching teenagers English in Hong Kong.
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.’
A Foreign Office spokesman added: ‘Following the death of a British woman in Beirut, we are providing support to the family.
‘We remain in close contact with local authorities. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.’