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Diplomacy

Attacker throws bomb at US embassy in Montenegro then blows himself up

Authorities in Podgorica have not released any theories as to the motive for the attack in the country which recently joined Nato

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 February, 2018, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 February, 2018, 9:42pm

Police in Montenegro said Thursday they are “working intensely” to identify an assailant who threw an explosive device into the US embassy compound in the capital, Podgorica, before killing himself.

Police said that the man threw a bomb into the embassy yard and then committed suicide by activating another one around midnight Wednesday.

The blast created a crater but caused no other material damage to the embassy property, the statement said.

Police sealed off the area around the embassy after the explosion.

Officers came to the scene after receiving reports about an explosion and found a lifeless male body in the area of the Moraca river that runs through Podgorica, the statement said.

A guard at the sports centre who asked not to be named said he “heard two explosions, one after another”.

“Police came very quickly and the body of a man was taken away,” he said.

Montenegro, a small Adriatic state of some 660,000 people, joined Nato last May. The decision to become a member provoked violent protests by the pro-Russian opposition in 2015.

In October 2016, authorities said they had thwarted a plot by pro-Russian militants to storm parliament and oust the pro-Western government on the eve of general elections.

Authorities alleged that “Russian state bodies” were involved in the conspiracy, which they say aimed at preventing Montenegro from joining Nato.

In October 2011, the US embassy in Sarajevo in neighbouring Bosnia was the target of a militant attack.

An Islamist, Mevlid Jasarevic opened fire with an automatic rifle at the embassy building, wounding a police officer. He was also injured in the exchange of fire and arrested.

Jasarevic was later sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.

According to figures published in November by a regional think tank, a thousand people from the Western Balkans have gone to join jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq since 2012.

Twenty-three of those were from Montenegro, whose population is predominantly Orthodox Christian.

Last month, a court in Montenegro for the first time sentenced one of its citizens for having fought in Syria.

Hamid Beharovic, 39, was found guilty of having fought for Islamic State between April 2015 and May 2016. He was given a six-month jail term.

Associated Press and Agence France-Presse