BEIRUT, Lebanon – Armed men suspected of belonging to Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group prevented a U.S. Embassy convoy from visiting an area bordering Israel on Friday, Lebanese security officials said.
An embassy official confirmed that men blocked the convoy from visiting an area in southern Lebanon, but did not say if they were armed or belonged to Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group listed by Washington as a terrorist movement.
In Washington, a State Department official said the United States has formally protested the incident to Lebanon’s government and that Lebanese authorities promised an immediate investigation.
The U.S. Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not say who was in the convoy or where the incident occurred.
A Hezbollah spokesman had no comment.
Lebanese security officials said the incident occurred as the U.S. motorcade was traveling to the Lebanese village of Labboune, a few hundred yards from the Israeli border. The officials said the U.S. vehicles left the area immediately after the incident.
Hezbollah, which is believed to be behind attacks on Americans during Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, is known to be active in the same area.
Hezbollah, which receives support from Iran, carried out the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut that killed 63 people and the bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut six months later that killed 241 American servicemen.
The group had spearheaded a guerrilla war against Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon until they withdrew in May 2000.