In the capital of Lebanon, Beirut, there was an exchange of fire, in which at least six people were killed and several dozen injured. The armed clashes on the border between the Shi’ite and Christian parts of the city followed Hezbollah’s protests against a judge investigating the explosion in the Beirut port in 2020. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced that Friday will be a day of national mourning.
A fire exchange lasting several hours, using sniper rifles, automatic weapons, pistols and grenade launchers, resembled scenes from the civil war in Lebanon in 1975-1990, the AP agency reported. She added that the clashes took place almost exactly on the former front line, on the border of Shi’ite and Christian parts of Beirut.
It is difficult to determine exactly how the shooting began, but tensions have increased since a demonstration of pro-Iranian Shi’ite Hezbollah and its allied Amal movement gathered in front of the Palace of Justice in the Christian part of the city, the Associated Press reported.
A reporter of the Lebanese television Al-Jadid, reporting the events in the At-Tajuna district, on the border between the Christian and Muslim parts of the capital, reported “the use of weapons at the roundabout”. The station made the sounds of gunfire and ambulance sirens. Two explosions were also heard in the city, according to Reuters.
The prime minister calls for the perpetrators to be arrested
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for “the arrest of the perpetrators responsible for the victims.” As reported by the military, at least six people were killed. One of the victims is a woman who died from wounds in her home. Dozens of people were injured. The head of government also announced that Friday will be a day of national mourning.
According to Hezbollah, the Christian Lebanese Forces are responsible for the attack on the group’s supporters and its allies in the Amal movement. As added, the snipers were supposed to shoot the crowd from the rooftops of nearby buildings. Lebanese forces have denied these allegations.
Shots during a protest against the referee
Hezbollah supporters gathered in the vicinity of the court on Thursday to express their opposition to Judge Tarik Bitar, who is settling a case regarding the Beirut port explosion in 2020, which killed more than 200 people. Demonstrators trampled pictures of Bitar. Lebanese army soldiers were deployed near the site of the protest.
Hezbollah accuses Judge Bitar of “conducting a politicized investigation” and focusing attention on members of the Shi’ite Amal movement who held ministerial positions in the Lebanese government at a time when the ammonium nitrate threatening common security was stored in a Beirut port. Hizbullah supporters object to questioning of high-ranking Shi’ite politicians and secret service officials on suspicion of a crime of omission.
France is deeply concerned about the clashes in Lebanon
The tensions over the port explosion investigation are another crisis facing Lebanon. The country is already suffering from an unprecedented financial meltdown, hyperinflation, a political crisis, electricity supply problems and rising poverty.
The Lebanese judiciary must have guarantees that an independent and impartial investigation into the explosion in the port will be conducted, stressed the French Foreign Ministry on Thursday. As added, France is deeply concerned about the clashes in Lebanon and calls for an appeasement.
Violence broke out in Beirut when the US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland visited the city to meet with representatives of the Lebanese government.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / NABIL MOUNZER