Lebanese police are investigating whether a British embassy worker strangled and dumped by the side of a motorway was sexually assaulted.
Rebecca Dykes’s family said they have been left “devastated” following her death in Beirut early on Saturday morning, while embassy staff are said to be shocked.
The victim, believed to have been aged 30, was strangled with a rope and found dead by the side of a road in the east of the capital, police said.
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.
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.
British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter 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 & working very closely with Lebanese authorities who are conducting police investigation.”
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 Foreign Office said it was in contact with the Lebanese authorities.
“Following the death of a British woman in Beirut, we are providing support to the family,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.
“We remain in close contact with local authorities. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.”