BEIRUT: The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon received detailed information about a threat from criminal activity in the Baalbek area, prompting a warning message to all Americans in the country.
U.S. Public Affairs Officer Amanda Johnson told The Daily Star Wednesday the embassy had received a specific threat warning from Lebanese authorities and was obligated to share the information.
The message sent Tuesday evening warned citizens about clashes between Lebanese authorities and criminal groups, and advised Americans to avoid the Baalbek area “while the risk of clashes continues.”
Johnson said she could not provide additional information about the threat, but said that the embassy’s policy is to not have a double standard between warnings embassy staff and citizens receive. “We were informed by Lebanese authorities about increased criminal activity in the Baalbek area,” Johnson said.
“So we are obligated to inform American citizens about the information we receive,” she said. “We have credible information so we shared it.”
There are periodic clashes and shootouts between established gangs in the Baalbek area and Lebanese Army, but it is unclear exactly what has prompted the latest change in message by authorities.
The emergency message advised citizens to monitor the situation in the Bekaa and keep a low profile in public and when traveling.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 15, 2012, on page 3.