Armed clashes erupted in Beirut on Thursday during a demonstration organized by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and his allies against the senior judge investigating last year's explosion in the city's harbor. At least six people have been killed and dozens injured in the city's most prolonged and violent street fighting in years, authorities said.
The exchange of fire along a former front line of the 1975-90 Civil War involved pistols, automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, and was reminiscent of this conflict. Shots echoed in the Lebanese capital for several hours and ambulances, screaming sirens, rushed to pick up the wounded. Snipers shot from buildings. Bullets penetrated the windows of apartments in the neighborhood.
It is not immediately clear what sparked the violence on Thursday. Both sides said their protesters were the target of sniper fire.on the roofs.
The supporters of an allied Shiite group Hezbollah helps a comrade injured in armed clashes that erupted during a protest on the southern outskirts of Beirut in Dahiyeh, Lebanon on Thursday. (AP)
TAIWAN LARGE FIRE KILLING AT LEAST 45 DEAD AND DOZENS INJURED
Tensions were high after Hezbollah backed by Iran and its Shiite allies of the Amal movement demanded the impeachment of Tarek Bitar, the judge in charge of the explosion investigationmassive port last year. The two sides called for a demonstration near the Palace of Justice, located along the former front line between Shia Muslims and Ch ristian areas.
The violence unfolded as US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland was in town meeting with Lebanese officials. His schedule was slightly disrupted by the action on the streets.
Nuland later told an airport press conference that an impartial judiciary is in place. the guarantor of all rights, in an apparent criticism of Hezbollah. "The Lebanese people deserve no less and the victims and families of those lost in the port explosion deserve no less," she said. "Today 's unacceptable violence makes it clear what the stakes are.
Bitar's impeachment demands and calls for a protest have upset those who consideredThis was a blatant intervention in the work of justice.
The right wing of the Christian Lebanese Forces mobilized supporters on Wednesday after Hezbollah and Amal called for demonstrations at the courthouse, located in a Christian quarter. Videos circulating on social media showed supporters of the Lebanese Christian Forces marching through the streets carrying large crosses.
Supporters of a Shiite group allied with Hezbollah come to the aid of a comrade wounded in armed clashes that erupted on Thursday during a massacreprotest in the southern suburbs of Beirut in Dahiyeh, Lebanon. (AP)
In some videos circulating online, men chanted: "Shiite Shiite " in the streets, as residents fled gunshots.
In a statement, Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for calm and urged the population "not to be drawn into the civil war.
The tribunal's investigation is focused on hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrates that were improperly stored in a port warehouse that exploded on August 4, 2020, killing at least 215 people, injuring thousands and destroying parts of it. neighboring neighborhoods. It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history and further devastated a country already rocked by
Bitar is the second judge in lead the complicated investigation - his predecessor was removed as a result of conjudicial tests. Today Bitar faces formidable opposition from the powerful Hezbollah group and its allies who accuse him of choosing politicians to question them, most of them allied with Hezbollah.
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None of the officials of the Hezbollah has so far been indicted in the 14-month-old investigation.
Tensions over the port blast add to huge multiple issues of Lebanon, including an unprecedented economic and financial crisis, an energy crisis resulting in prolonged power outages, hyperinflation and growing poverty.
Haneen Chemaly, resident of Beirut, who runs an NGO locAle, which provides social services, accused Lebanese leaders of leading the country into civil society war, saying this is "the last card they should use.
"They (drove) us into bankruptcy, devastation and now they scare us with the specter of civil war, " she said.
Nuland, who said that She was visiting to express her support for Mikati's new government. During a press conference held at Beirut airport, she called for "strong action " on the part of the government that would demonstrate its willingness to implement reforms.
However, the armed clash could derail the month-old Mikati government even before it It 's only starting to tackle Lebanon ' s economic collapse.
A reCabinet union was called off on Wednesday after Hezbollah called for urgent government action against the judge. A Hezbollah-allied minister said he and other members of the Shiite cabinet would stage a walkout if Bitar was not withdrawn, further complicating Mikati's mission.