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Gunman captured after shootout outside US Embassy in Lebanon

Lebanese media have published photos that appear to show a bloodied attacker wearing a black vest with the words "Islamic State" written in Arabic and the English initials "I" and "S."
Lebanon Mideast Tensions
Posted at 5:45 AM, Jun 05, 2024

A gunman was shot and captured by Lebanese soldiers after a Wednesday morning shootout outside the U.S. Embassy near Beirut that injured an embassy security guard, the military and embassy officals said.

The attack took place as tensions continued to simmer in the tiny Mediterranean country, where months of fighting between Hezbollah militants and Israeli troops has displaced thousands along the border, following years of political deadlock and economic hardship.

The Lebanese military in a statement said that soldiers shot an assailant, who they only described as a Syrian national. The gunman was wounded and taken to a hospital.

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No motive was immediately clear. However, Lebanese media have published photos that appear to show a bloodied attacker wearing a black vest with the words “Islamic State” written in Arabic and the English initials “I” and “S.”

Local media reported that there was a gunfight involving at least one attacker and lasting almost half an hour. A video that surfaced on social media showed a gunman in a parking lot across the embassy's entrance shooting with what appears to be an assault rifle.

The U.S. Embassy said in an initial statement that all of its staff were “safe” following the attack near the entrance to the sprawling diplomatic compound, and that Lebanese troops and embassy security mobilized quickly.

An embassy spokesperson later said in a statement that one embassy security guard was injured in the attack.

“With respect to his privacy we cannot say more, but we wish him a full recovery,” said the spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with regulations.

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A statement from Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s office said that he was informed following meetings with the defense minister and army commander that the situation was now stable and that serious investigations are underway.

The Lebanese military said it deployed troops around the embassy and surrounding areas.

In 1983, a deadly bombing attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killed 63 people. U.S. officials blame the attack on the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Following that attack, the embassy was moved from central Beirut to the Christian suburb of Aukar, north of the capital. Another bomb attack struck the new location on Sept. 20, 1984.

In September 2023, Lebanese security forces detained a Lebanese man who opened fire by the U.S. Embassy. There were no casualties in that attack.

In October 2023, hundreds of protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces in demonstrations near the U.S. Embassy in support of Gaza’s people and the militant group Hamas in its war with Israel.