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Lebanon: Gunman arrested after firing shots at US embassy

The attacker was wounded in an exchange of fire with Lebanese troops
Lebanese soldiers deploy near the US embassy in Beirut on 5 June 2024, after a Syrian man was arrested following a shooting near the embassy (AFP)
Lebanese soldiers deploy near the US embassy in Beirut, after a Syrian man was arrested following a shooting, on 5 June 2024 (AFP)

A man fired shots at the US embassy in Lebanon on Wednesday, wounding a member of its security team, the Lebanese army said.

The army said the gunman, a Syrian national, was seriously wounded in an exchange of fire with Lebanese forces, and was arrested and taken to hospital.

A judicial source told AFP that the gunman said he had carried out the attack "in support of Gaza", which has been under heavy Israeli bombardment since 7 October.

Local media reported that there was a gunfight involving at least one attacker for almost half an hour in the vicinity of the US embassy in the suburb of Awkar, north of Beirut.

"Army personnel deployed in the area responded to the sources of fire, wounding the shooter," the statement said, adding that "he was arrested and transported to hospital".

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The shooter was identified as a resident of the eastern Lebanese town of Majdal Anjar, on the border with Syria. 

The army said it was investigating the incident and its forces have raided several homes in nearby villages. The gunman's brother was also detained.

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but a senior Lebanese security source told Reuters that the army was investigating possible links to the Islamic State group.

The source said the attacker had "ISIS" in English and "Islamic State" in Arabic written on clothes he was wearing. 

The US embassy is located in a heavily fortified zone with multiple checkpoints. A spokesperson said its personnel were safe and an investigation is under way.

Last September a gunman opened fire at the embassy, but there were no casualties.

The embassy said it would remain closed to the public for the rest of Wednesday, but was set to be open for general business as usual on Thursday.

Diplomatic sources told Reuters that US ambassador Lisa Johnson was currently travelling outside Lebanon.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions in Lebanon, due to Israel’s war on Gaza and its near-daily cross-border clashes with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

In October, hundreds of protesters gathered near the US embassy in support of Palestinians in Gaza, and were met with teargas and water cannon. 

In a separate incident on Wednesday, a member of Lebanon's internal security forces posted at the Saudi embassy in Lebanon killed himself outside the embassy, a security source and a diplomatic source told Reuters.

The guard, who shot himself in the head, was suffering suffered from mental health conditions, the sources said. 

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