Shots fired outside US embassy in Lebanon, no injuries reported

No one claims responsibility for small arms fire in vicinity of entrance to complex; mission says in close contact with Lebanese law enforcement, who launch investigation

Undated photo of the US Embassy in Aukar, a northern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo)
Undated photo of the US Embassy in Aukar, a northern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo)

Lebanon’s security agencies have launched an investigation into a late night shooting outside the US embassy in Lebanon that caused no injuries, officials said Thursday.

No one claimed responsibility for the Wednesday night small arms fire in the vicinity of the entrance of the heavily-fortified compound in Beirut’s northeastern suburb of Awkar. It was not immediately clear if the incident was a politically-motivated attack.

US Embassy spokesperson Jake Nelson said that “there were no injuries, and our facility is safe.” He added: “We are in close contact with host country law enforcement authorities.”

Shortly after the shooting, the Lebanese army took measures near the embassy and later security agencies started an investigation including analyzing security cameras in the area, a Lebanese official said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

This year marked the 40th anniversary of a deadly bombing attack on the US Embassy in Beirut on April 18, 1983, that killed 63 people including at least 17 Americans. Top CIA officials were among those killed in the 1983 embassy attack in a Beirut coastal neighborhood. US official blamed the terror group Hezbollah.

In recent years there have been no reported attacks on the embassy although Lebanon has a long history of attacks against Americans since the 1975-90 civil war started.

The wreckage of the American Embassy annex, in Christian East Beirut, Lebanon, on September 20, 1984 after a terrorist car bombing. (Zouheir Saade/AP)

The following year another car-bombing killed over twenty people at the embassy, including two US soldiers.

In 2008, an explosion targeted a US Embassy vehicle in northern Beirut, killing at least three Lebanese and injuring an American bystander and a local embassy employee. The blast, which damaged the armored SUV and several other vehicles, took place just ahead of a farewell reception for the American ambassador at a hotel in central Beirut.

In October 1983, a truck bombing killed 241 American service members at the US Marine barracks at Beirut airport.

In 1976, the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Francis E. Meloy Jr., and an aide, Robert O. Waring, were kidnapped and shot to death in Beirut. In 1984, William Buckley, CIA station chief in Beirut, was kidnapped and murdered by the Islamic Jihad terror group.

The US withdrew all diplomats from Beirut in September 1989 and did not reopen its embassy until 1991.

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