Gunman captured after shootout outside US Embassy in Lebanon

AUKAR, Lebanon (AP) — A gunman who attacked the U.S. embassy near Beirut was shot and captured by Lebanese soldiers after a Wednesday morning shootout that injured an embassy security guard, the military and embassy officials said.

The attack took place as tensions simmered 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.

Local media reported that there was a gunfight involving at least one attacker and lasting almost half an hour.

Joe Abdo, who works at a gas station near the compound said he heard “around 15 to 20 rounds of gunfire” while working that morning. “We ran here to see what’s happening and suddenly, the army blocked us from going up,” he told The Associated Press.

No motive was immediately clear, but 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.”

The Islamic State has not claimed the attack, nor has any other group.

A Lebanese security official and two judicial officials familiar with the case said the gunman appeared to be a lone attacker. They identified him as a resident of the eastern Lebanese border town of Majdal Anjar near Syria. Earlier, the Lebanese military identified the suspect as a Syrian national.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to speak to the press.

The military raided both Majdal Anjar and nearby Suweiri, the Lebanese army said in a statement, where it arrested three relatives of the suspect and two other people believed to be associated with him.

The officials said they did not find other gunmen or evidence of a possible extremist cell.

The suspect was shot in the stomach and leg before being captured and taken to the military hospital in Beirut, according to the officials.

A U.S. Embassy spokesperson 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.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters the local guard was “seriously injured.” He said U.S. officials were aware that the suspect was wearing what appeared to be IS apparel but that they do not yet know the motive for the shooting.

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.


Chehayeb reported from Beirut. Associated Press writer Abby Sewell in Beirut contributed to this report.