After deadly car bombings last week in Beirut, the U.S. State Department cautioned Americans in Lebanon to "exercise extreme caution" while in the country and to avoid going to public places like Western-style hotels, grocery stores and shopping centers.
The message from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on Sunday reinforced the travel warning that has been in place since Oct. 9. It urges U.S. travelers to avoid going to Lebanon for any reason, citing the potential for terrorist attacks against Americans by extremist groups such as Hezbollah. Fulbright and English-language fellow programs that fund students to study in Lebanon were suspended too.
Since the first of the year, two car bombings believed to be a spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria have struck residential areas in Beirut. Last Thursday, at least four people were killed in an area believed to be a Hezbollah stronghold. Earlier, a Dec. 27 bombing at a downtown commercial center killed seven people including Sunni political figure Mohamad Chatah, who had been an ambassador to the U.S. and a Hezbollah critic.
CNN reports that a group called ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility Saturday for the Thursday attack. The group, considered an Al Qaeda affiliate, opposes Hezbollah and its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the story said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times