STRASBOURG, France -- U.S. Consul General Robert Onan Homme was shot and wounded as he left for work today and a Middle East group blamed for previous attempts on the lives of diplomats claimed responsbility for the attack.
The 43-year-old Homme, hit in the neck and chest by three of five shots fired at him, was listed in stable condition at Hautepierre Hospital in a suburb of Strasbourg, near the border between France and West Germany.
The Armed Lebanese Revolutionary Faction said in a letter to a French news agency it carried out the shooting, which police said left Homme conscious and only superficially wounded.
'Mr. Homme is able to speak and his life is not in danger,' said U.S. embassy spokesman in Paris.
Police had earlier said the shooting appeared to stem from a dispute between Homme and a member his household staff who was dismissed recently. But State Department officials discounted that theory.
The letter to the French news agency, Agence France Presse, said the Armed Lebanese Revolutionary Faction carried out the shooting because of Homme's 'well-known activities as a member of the CIA.'
The same group claimed responsibility for the unsuccessful 1981 attempt on the life of Christian Chapman, acting U.S. ambassador at the time, and the assassination in January 1982 of U.S. military attache Charles Ray. It also claimed to be behind the shooting of Israeli diplomat Yacov Barsimantov in April, 1982.
Police believe the Revolutionary Faction has had a previous connection with the outlawed terrorist group Direct Action, responsible for numerous acts of violence in France over the past two years.
Today's attack around 9 a.m. was carried out by a gunman who walked up to Homme's car and fired with a revolver, police said.
The man, described as being of Mediterranean or Asian origin and aged about 30, escaped on a motorbike parked nearby.
Police threw up a cordon around the area, a posh residential district near the European Parliament.
The attack marked the first time a diplomat has been injured in an attack in Strasbourg, the seat of the Council of Europe.
Homme has been the U.S. consul general in Strasbourg since 1981 and a diplomat since 1962 in Mexico, Colombia, Italy and Panama.