- Armed clashes in Beirut leave at least 6 dead and dozens injured.
- Violence erupted after protests linked to an investigation into an explosion that occurred at the city’s port last year.
- The conflict has worsened since 2008, when the Shiite Hezbollah briefly invaded parts of Beirut.
At least six people were killed and dozens injured in some of the city’s longest and most violent clashes in years in Beirut, Lebanon, authorities said.
Armed clashes broke out in Beirut on Thursday during a protest organized by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and its allies against the chief judge investigating the explosion that occurred last year in the port of the city, reported The Associated Press.
Armed clashes in Beirut leave at least 6 dead
The exchanges of fire along a former front line from the 1975-90 civil war involved handguns, automatic rifles, and rocket-propelled grenades, and were reminiscent of that conflict. The fighting was the worst since 2008, when the Shiite Hezbollah briefly invaded parts of Beirut.
Shots rang out in the capital for several hours and ambulances, sirens howling, rushed to pick up the wounded. Photos and videos show snipers firing from buildings. The bullets penetrated the windows of the apartments in the area.
It is not clear how the violence broke out
It was not immediately clear how Thursday’s violence erupted, but tensions rose after Iran-backed Hezbollah and its Shiite Amal Movement allies demanded the removal of the judge who led the investigation into the massive port explosion last year. .
The two sides called for a protest near the Palace of Justice, located along the former front line between the Muslim Shiite and Christian areas. To watch the videos press HERE.
Attacked by snipers
In a statement Thursday, the two groups said their protesters were attacked by snipers on rooftops. The violence unfolded while US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland was in town, meeting with Lebanese officials.
His schedule was slightly altered by the action on the streets. Nuland later told a news conference at the airport that an impartial judiciary is the guarantor of all rights, in apparent criticism of Hezbollah.
Calls to protest
“The Lebanese people deserve no less and the victims and families of those lost in the port explosion deserve no less,” he said. “Today’s unacceptable violence makes clear what is at stake.”
The demands for the removal of Bitar and the calls for protests in the clashes in Beirut upset many who considered a flagrant intervention in the work of the judiciary.
Shooting at protesters in Beirut
Before the clashes in Beirut, the Christian formation Lebanese Forces mobilized its supporters on Wednesday night after Hezbollah and its partners announced the protest outside the Palace of Justice, located in a Christian area.
Videos posted on social media showed followers of the conservative group walking the streets with large crosses. A journalist working for The Associated Press saw a man opening fire with a pistol during the protest, as well as gunmen firing at protesters from the balcony of a building.
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