By Khalid Khattak

Secretary of State John Kerry said U.S. investigators have made progress in their effort to find out who was behind last year’s assault on U.S. government posts in Benghazi, Libya, but told House lawmakers Wednesday that the investigation remained difficult.

“We have identified people. And they are building a case,” he said in his first appearance as chief U.S. diplomat before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We’re going through the tedious, laborious and very difficult process of gaining evidence from a part of the country which is dangerous and working in a place where the standards are different and the expectations are different.”

The assault last September on a diplomatic post and a nearby CIA annex claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. U.S. officials have said individuals connected with al Qaeda’s North Africa offshoot were involved in the attack.

The Obama administration drew widespread criticism for its handling of the aftermath of the assault and for ignoring security deficiencies in Libya. The administration has been accused by Republican lawmakers in particular for providing misleading information on what led up the attacks.

That criticism continued on Wednesday when Mr. Kerry faced demands for information lawmakers said they needed for ongoing investigations.

The chairman of the House committee, Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) said the committee has been frustrated in its requests for documents and other information concerning the attacks.

Four State Department officials were removed from their jobs after complaints of inadequate security in Benghazi, but Mr. Royce questioned why the four are still on the payroll.

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