BEIRUT: The American Embassy in Lebanon Sunday urged U.S. citizens in the country to exercise extreme caution following recent bombings in Beirut and other security incidents, warning that shopping malls and supermarkets were likely targets for future terrorist attacks.
“The U.S. government strongly urges U.S. citizens in Lebanon to exercise extreme caution and to avoid hotels, western-style shopping centers, including western-style grocery chain stores, and any public or social events where U.S. citizens normally congregate, as these sites are likely targets for terrorist attacks for at least the near term,” a statement on the Embassy’s website said.
The advisory also urged all U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon, citing “safety and security concerns.”
“U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks,” the statement said.
Lebanon has seen a spike in incidents linked to the crisis in neighboring Syria, the most recent of which was the Jan. 2 suicide bombing in Beirut’s southern suburbs that killed four people and wounded more than 70 others. Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Days earlier, former Minister Mohammad Shatah was assassinated by a car bomb in Downtown Beirut. The Dec. 27, 2012, attack in the bustling central district of Beirut also killed seven other people and wounded 70.
The Embassy advised U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Lebanon to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
“STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate,” the statement said.