US embassy outing in Lebanon attacked by stones

South Lebanon is the heartland of the country`s Shi’ite Hezbollah militia.

Sidon: A group of angry Lebanese youths on Saturday threw stones and bottles at a group from the US embassy in Beirut visiting the southern port town of Sidon, a security official said.

A spokesman for the US mission confirmed there had been "an incident”.

"The embassy can confirm that a group of employees went to Sidon today on a tourism trip. An incident occurred, and the group returned back to the embassy. No injuries," he said, without elaborating.

Local media had spoken of the presence in the group of the embassy`s political charge d`affaires.

"A group of youths intercepted a US embassy delegation as they left a restaurant and insulted them before throwing stones and empty glass bottles at them," the security source said.

He said the youths accused the members of the group of being "criminals, Israelis... you have soiled the land of resistance and martyrs”.

South Lebanon is the heartland of the country`s Shi’ite Hezbollah militia, and saw heavy fighting in the short but sharp summer war of 2006 between the group and Israeli forces.

The 34-day conflict killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Lebanese security forces accompanying the US group intervened on Saturday, but stones continued to be thrown, breaking car windows. The Army then arrived and arrested three of the attackers, the security official said.

Protesters later staged a sit-in in Sidon to demand the release of the three arrested in connection with the attack.

Osama Saad, head of the Nasserite Popular Movement, a Hezbollah ally, gave a speech describing the detained men as "heroes”.

Saad called for their "immediate release because they were trying to protest against the positions of the United States, with Israel, against Lebanon and US interference in Lebanon`s internal affairs."

A group of men blocked roads into the Sunni majority city with burning tyres for an hour before the Army dispersed them.

Bureau Report

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