Rocket Fired at U.S. Embassy; Link to Muslim Radicals Seen
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Arab radicals opposed to the Mideast peace conference fired a rocket at the U.S. embassy compound in east Beirut on Tuesday.
The missile struck a wall but caused no injuries or serious damage to the building in the Christian suburb of Aukur, said Defense Minister Michel Murr.
An anonymous caller to a Western news agency later claimed responsibility on behalf of the Arab Revolutionary Brigades, a previously unknown group.
The caller said the rocket was ″a demonstration of rejection of the sellout by Arab regimes of the Palestinian cause at the Madrid conference.″
Iranian and Arab radicals have promised to attack targets of the United States and others involved in Wednesday’s conference, which they oppose because it could lead to Arab recognition for Israel.
Lebanese army troops and police threw a cordon around the embassy minutes after the blast and turned away reporters and photographers, said Associated Press technician Elie Ghattas, who lives about 100 yards from the compound.
No embassy officials were available for comment. Ambassador Ryan Crocker was in Madrid with the U.S. delegation sponsoring the peace conference.
All U.S. Embassy functions were moved to the building in east Beirut after the embassy compound in Muslim west Beirut was destroyed in two truckbomb explosions in 1983 and 1984.
The suicide attacks by the Islamic Jihad organization left 74 people dead, including 21 Americans, and 196 wounded.
Islamic Jihad is one of the Shiite Muslim factions holding kidnapped Western hostages in Lebanon. The groups are believed to be under the loose control of Hezbollah, or Party of God.
Hezbollah guerrillas earlier Tuesday detonated a roadside bomb near the village of Aramta, on the northern edge of Israel’s self-proclaimed security zone in southern Lebanon, killing three Israeli soldiers.
Hezbollah leader Abbas Musawi proclaimed a day of mourning Wednesday to mark the opening of the peace talks, which he denounced as an effort by Israel to buy time to ″bring in more Jewish immigrants and create more settlements in occupied territories.″
″Our mujahedeen (Islamic holy warriors) will carry out more and more attacks on the Zionist enemy,″ Musawi said. ″Our aim is to liberate Jerusalem. This is our sacred duty.″