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Powerful Blast Targets U.S. Embassy Vehicle,

Three Lebanese Killed, No Americans Hit

 Retrieved from Naharnet on January 16, 2008


Retrieved from Annar Newspaper. Photo by Ibrahim Tawil.

 A powerful blast targeted a U.S. Embassy vehicle in northern Beirut Tuesday, killing three people

 and injuring 20 others, including a local embassy employee, police reported.

 A police official said the bomb was planted under garbage containers and detonated by remote control,

 demolishing a private car owned by Lebanese citizen Joseph Khoury and inflicting damage

 to the bulletproof Sports Utility Vehicle owned by the U.S. embassy.


 He said the U.S. vehicle was returning from an assignment to Beirut airport and on its way

 to the embassy compound in Suburban Aukar, north of Beirut.


 The U.S. Embassy issued a statement clarifying the development.


 "An Embassy Vehicle was involved in an explosion in the Karantina district of Beirut around 4:30 pm

 on January 15. Two Embassy security employees, both Lebanese, were in the vehicle at the time

 of the explosion. One suffered from minor injures. No Americans were involved," the statement said.


 It added that "all American staff assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut are safe and accounted for."


 The embassy also announced that a farewell reception for Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, scheduled

 for Tuesday evening at a Beirut hotel, was called off.


 In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said two embassy employees -- including

 the driver -- were in the vehicle damaged in the blast, which could be heard across the Lebanese capital

 and sent gray smoke billowing near the Mediterranean coast.


 "The driver was slightly injured, but he is being treated for his injuries that are non-life-threatening,"

 McCormack told reporters. "There were no American diplomats or American citizens in the car

 at the time."


 The other staffer is fine, he said.


 McCormack said four Lebanese were killed in the explosion.


 "My understanding is there were four Beirut residents who do not work for the embassy who were killed

 in the blast," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families."


 McCormack could not offer specifics about the blast or whether the vehicle had been targeted, but said it

 had been hit directly "by the explosion itself."


 He said agents from the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security would be working with

 Lebanese authorities to investigate the blast and that the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was reviewing its



 "We are going to take a look at what implications, if any, there are for our security posture in Beirut,"

 McCormack said.


 The police source said the attack targeted the U.S. embassy vehicle in the Dora-Karantina neighborhood.


 Beirut has had a long history of attacks against Americans since the turmoil of the 17-year civil war,

 which ended in 1990.


 At least 17 Americans, including top CIA officials in the region, were killed in a 1983 suicide bombing at

 the U.S. Embassy. Later that year, 241 American service members died in a massive truck bombing at

 the U.S. Marine barracks at Beirut airport.


 The U.S. withdrew all diplomats from Beirut in September 1989 and did not reopen its embassy until



 In the past three years, a series of explosions in Lebanon targeted mainly anti-Syrian politicians

 and journalists.


 The last car bombing on Dec. 12 in Beirut's suburb of Baabda killed Lebanese army Maj. Gen. Francois

 Hajj and two other people.(Naharnet-AP).