BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) – The Kuwaiti Embassy in Lebanon was evacuated Thursday after receiving an anonymous phone call threatening the mission, embassy and police officials said.
The embassy official said the precaution was taken after an unknown caller said the embassy will be targeted with two rockets. All staff were immediately evacuated, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements to the media.
Tarek Khaled al-Hamad, the embassy’s Charge d’Affaires, told the private Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation it was the first time the embassy received a direct threat which he said “must be taken seriously.”
The embassy didn’t suspect any particular party of being behind the threat, al-Hamad said, and called on Kuwaitis to be vigilant when moving around in Lebanon, which has seen a rise in violence in recent weeks.
Security concerns rose across the country in the wake of the Feb. 12 killing of a top Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughniyeh, in a car bombing in neighboring Damascus.
It also came a day after a Kuwaiti parliamentary bloc said it has expelled two of its Shiite lawmakers who took part in a ceremony eulogizing Mughniyeh, because they disregarded the feelings of their fellow Kuwaitis.
Describing Mughniyeh as a hero has sparked public outrage in Kuwait which holds him responsible for hijacking a Kuwait Airways flight and killing two of its Kuwaiti passengers 20 years ago.
The two lawmakers were only expelled from their bloc but remained in the legislature. The Cabinet in Kuwait, a predominantly Sunni Muslim country, has condemned the glorifying of Mughniyeh there and warned this could cause civil strife.
Thursday’s threat also followed a Saudi warning this week to its citizens, advising them against traveling to Lebanon because of unstable security conditions.
Rising political tensions between pro-government and opposition groups have degenerated into street fights between supporters of the two sides in recent weeks, injuring more than a dozen people.
Also, after Mughniyeh’s slaying, the Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah declared “open war” with Israel, prompting the Jewish state to go on alert and compounding security concerns across the region.