BEIRUT -  A British woman employed at the UK embassy in Lebanon has been found murdered, a senior official said Sunday, adding that the crime did not appear to be political.

"Our first impression is that it's not politically motivated," the official, who is involved in the investigation, told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. He confirmed that the victim's name was Rebecca Dykes but could not elaborate on the exact circumstances of her death.

A statement from the Foreign Office and the family provided no further details. "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened," the family said in a statement passed on by the Foreign Office.

According to her social media profiles, she was employed by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

The Lebanese official said her body was found "on the side of the Emile Lahoud road" just north of Beirut on Saturday evening. He said investigators were looking into reports that Dykes had been sexually assaulted.

A security source told AFP that the British woman's body had been dumped on the roadside and that strangulation was suspected as a possible cause of death because "she was found with a piece of string around her neck".

British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter said in a statement: "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," he said.

She had been sexually assaulted and strangled, according to the BBC, who cited information from senior police sources.

A forensic official said authorities were still investigating the exact cause of her death but that she had been strangled with a rope, Reuters reported.

Her family said in a statement: "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."