The American embassy in Beirut has stopped an attempted bombing
by insurgents trying to enter the U.S. compound.
U.S. embassy security officers captured a Lebanese national who tried to
enter the grounds with a package of dynamite in his backpack. A suspected Palestinian
was also arrested in Wednesday's incident.
The two suspected insurgents made it through the first checkpoint at the
entrance to the embassy, a Lebanese security source said. At the second
checkpoint, the knapsack was placed through the metal detector, which began
to beep. The source said embassy guards immediately seized the knapsack and
threw it outside the embassy compound.
Last week, the State Department warned Americans of the prospect of an
insurgency attack in Lebanon, Middle East Newsline reported. The department urged Americans to maintain a
low profile and avoid Palestinian refugee camps.
Embassy security personnel deemed the Lebanese man suspicious and
placed him into custody. The security officers then found that he was
carrying sticks of dynamite in a knapsack.
"The package was found to contain explosive material," State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher said. "It was deactivated without incident. Two
persons have been taken into custody by the Lebanese armed forces in
connection with this incident and are being questioned."
Western diplomatic sources said the embassy has been on alert for an
insurgency attack. The embassy, which contains about 500 staffers and their
dependents, is located 15 kilometers north of Beirut.
The Lebanese, identified as Abed Mreish, and a Palestinian taxi driver
were turned over to the Lebanese military for further investigation. The
sources said about 1.5 kilograms of explosives were confiscated.
"At the gate of the U.S. embassy in Awkar," a Lebanese military
statement said, "army forces arrested a Lebanese man and a Palestinian
accompanying him as they tried to bring a bomb into the embassy complex.
Their investigations have begun and an effort continues to arrest all those
involved and bring them to justice."
Earlier this year, Lebanese authorities arrested about 50 people
suspected of being part of an Al Qaida-aligned network to strike U.S. and
Western interests in Lebanon. The ring was said to have targeted the U.S.
embassy as well as American and British restaurant franchises.
Along the Israeli-Lebanese border, Israel's military found a series of
bombs in the western sector. Israeli military sources said the bombs
resembled those found in November in a nearby area.