US updates travel warning to Lebanon

WASHINGTON - The United States on Monday updated its travel warning to Lebanon amid a convulsion of anti-US outrage in the Middle East, and suspended grants to Americans wishing to study in the country.

Urging Americans to avoid all travel to Lebanon, the State Department also highlighted a spate of recent kidnappings of foreigners in the country by different groups and clans, and the tensions caused by the conflict in Syria.

"US citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks," the statement said.

"The potential in Lebanon for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains.

Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country should violence erupt suddenly."

And it further warned that "the ability of US government personnel to reach travelers or provide emergency services may be severely limited."

Updating its last travel warning issued in May, the State Department also said Fulbright and English Language Fellow programs providing grants to Americans studying in Lebanon had been suspended for the academic year.

"US citizens traveling or residing in Lebanon despite this travel warning should keep a low profile, assess their personal security, and vary times and routes for all required travel," it added.

The warning came as protests against an amateur film mocking Islam made in the United States continued to rock Muslim nations, after claiming around 17 lives in the Middle East and North Africa.

Among the dead was US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three diplomatic staff in an attack on the US mission in eastern Benghazi. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said the attack was revenge in the killing of the terror network's deputy leader in June, but there has been no evidence to support its claim.

On Monday the protests turned violent for the first time in Afghanistan and Indonesia as hundreds of angry men clashed with police, hurling stones and shouting "Death to America."

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