Beirut, Lebanon – A gunman fired more than a dozen bullets at the US embassy in Beirut, Lebanese officials said on Thursday, with the diplomatic mission reporting no casualties in the late evening incident.
“At 10:37 pm local time (1937 GMT), small arms fire was reported in the vicinity of the entrance to the US Embassy,” said embassy spokesman Jake Nelson.
“There were no injuries, and our facility is safe,” he said, adding that the mission was in “close contact” with local law enforcement.
Lebanese forces have cordoned off the area of the highly-secured embassy complex in the northern Beirut suburb of Awkar, a security official told AFP.
The official said the unknown assailant struck late Wednesday evening, firing 15 bullets at the embassy entrance and leaving behind a bag full of ammunition.
The bag was seized by authorities, a judicial official told AFP.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the press.
A military court has begun investigating the incident, the judicial official said, calling it “a serious crime targeting the embassy of a major country”.
Authorities were reviewing surveillance camera footage, according to the security official.
The official said the attack was meant “to send a specific message” without elaborating.
The shooting coincided with the anniversary of a deadly 1984 car bombing outside the US embassy annex in Beirut, which the United States blamed on the Iran-backed Hezbollah.
US diplomatic and military missions in Lebanon were attacked on a number of occasions during the 1975-1990 civil war, when Islamic fundamentalists also kidnapped several US hostages.
The embassy relocated to Awkar after it was struck by a suicide attack in April 1983 that killed 63 people.