An unknown attacker blew himself up after throwing a suspected grenade into the US embassy compound in Podgorica, the Montenegrin government said Thursday.
“In front of the @USEmbassyMNE building in #Podgorica, #Montenegro an unknown person committed suicide with an explosive device. Immediately before, that person threw an explosive device,” the official government account tweeted, adding that the device was “most probably” a hand grenade.
An AFP correspondent could not see any damage on the spot as police sealed off the area.
According to the government, the attacker first threw an explosive device into the US embassy compound from an intersection close to a sports center. A US State Department spokesperson confirmed “a small explosion near the US Embassy compound”, adding that “at this time Embassy officials are working closely with police to identify the assailant(s)”.
The embassy said on its Twitter account that it had cancelled all visa services for Thursday, adding that access for US citizens “will be available today on an emergency basis”. A guard at the sports centre who asked not to be named said he “heard two explosions, one after another”.
At this time, Embassy officials are working closely with police to identify the assailant(s). We refer press to local law enforcement authorities for more details on this evolving investigation.— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) February 22, 2018
“Police came very quickly and the body of a man was taken away,” the witness told AFP. The heavily secured embassy building is located on the outskirts of Podgorica’s city center, near the secret police headquarters and Moraca river.
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 2011 the US embassy in Sarajevo in neighboring Bosnia was the target of a militant attack. Twenty-three of those were from Montenegro, whose population is predominantly Orthodox Christian.