British woman diplomat found murdered; strangled in Lebanon

A diplomat working at the British Embassy in Lebanon was found dead Saturday by the side of a road, reportedly strangled.

Rebecca Dykes’ body was found Saturday on the side of a highway east of Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, the BBC reported Sunday. Dykes, believed to be 30, was strangled, senior police sources told the news site. Local media Al Jadeed TV said Dykes was raped, though authorities said they are investigating whether she was sexually assaulted.

A forensic official also told The Associated Press that Dykes was strangled with a rope.

Dykes reportedly met friends and colleagues at a bar in central Beirut the night before she was killed, the Telegraph reported. She left the bar just after midnight.

Dykes had been living in Beirut since January while working as the Department for International Development’s program and police manager, according to the BBC.

Friends said she was flying home for Christmas Saturday.

"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,” Dykes’ family said in a statement.

A spokesman for U.K.’s Department for International Development said an investigation into the death is being conducted.

"Following the death of a British woman in Beirut, we are providing support to the family," the spokesman told the BBC. "We remain in close contact with local authorities. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time."

British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter said in a statement that the whole embassy was “deeply shocked and saddened by this news.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.