American embassy in Beirut targeted by gunfire

A gunman opened fire at the US embassy in Lebanon on Wednesday and was shot and captured by Lebanese security forces, adding to growing tensions in a crisis-hit nation already tense from months of cross-border attacks between Israel and the group armed militant Hezbollah. .

The embassy said a security guard was injured in the attack, without specifying how or whether the injuries were serious.

The motive of the attacker, who the Lebanese army identified as a Syrian national and said was hospitalized, was not immediately clear. Lebanese security forces later arrested a second man on suspicion of involvement in the attack after raids in the eastern village of Majdal Anjar, near the border with Syria, according to Lebanon's state news agency.

The news agency did not indicate how the second man may be linked to the attack. Earlier, a Lebanese security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said initial information suggested the gunman had acted alone.

Lebanese security forces and the embassy security team participated in Wednesday's attack responded to “small arms fire” near the entrance to the fortified complex, which overlooks the Lebanese capital, Beirut, the embassy said in a statement. The Lebanese security official said the army had subsequently conducted a search of the area around the embassy.

Local media, citing witnesses, reported that there was a firefight that lasted almost half an hour before the attacker was shot and arrested. Lebanon's interim prime minister, Najib Mikati, said the situation was stable and noted that the U.S. ambassador, Lisa A. Johnson, was not in the country at the time of the shooting.

The embassy was also targeted in September, when a gunman fired on the compound. No one was injured in that incident and a suspect was arrested.

In October, demonstrators protesting after a deadly explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Arab Hospital clashed with security forces as they tried to reach the embassy.

The embassy moved from central Beirut to the northern suburb of Awkar after a suicide bombing that killed 63 people in 1983. US officials blamed the attack on Hezbollah, which is engaged in intense cross-border clashes with forces Israeli from the beginning. The war in Gaza began last October.

The United States has a commanding presence in Lebanon, where it is the largest international donor to the military, providing more than $3 billion in financial assistance since 2006. The embassy is expected to move soon to an adjacent site, which will It spans 43 acres, which would make it one of the largest U.S. diplomatic missions in the world.

Hwaida Saad contributed to the reporting.

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