Deadly Shot Disperses Protests in Beirut

At least six people were killed and 20 others injured Thursday when gunfire erupted in the Lebanese capital amid protests against a judge investigating a deadly explosion at the port last year.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for calm to be restored and urged citizens “not to be dragged into civil strife.” Soldiers warned of opening fire on anyone firing live ammunition.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the violence.

Ebania army special forces soldiers protect teachers as they leave their school after deadly clashes erupted along the former front line of the 1975-1990 civil war between Shia Muslim and Christian areas, in Beirut's Ain el-Remaneh neighborhood.  (Photo: AP)

Ebania army special forces soldiers protect teachers as they leave their school after deadly clashes erupted along the former front line of the 1975-1990 civil war between Shia Muslim and Christian areas, in Beirut’s Ain el-Remaneh neighborhood. (Photo: AP)

Supporters of the militant group Hezbollah and its allies have gathered near the Palace of Justice in Beirut to protest against Judge Tarek Bitar. The groups demanded his dismissal, accusing him of conducting politically motivated investigations by choosing to investigate certain officials.

Hezbollah and its ally, the Shiite Amal Movement, blamed the attack on the Lebanon Forces (LF), a Christian political party.

The LF denied involvement and said Hezbollah’s “incitement” against the judge led to violence.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said all the dead were from one side, suggesting they were Shiites.

In a statement, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka stressed the need for Lebanese leaders to prioritize the interests of their citizens amid the unrest.

“Elevating Lebanon out of the current crisis and moving forward on reforms requires the efficient functioning of the legislature, executive and judiciary” Wronecka said.

“Now is the time for all parties to support judicial independence in the interests of the people,” he added.

An August 2020 explosion due to improperly stored ammonium nitrate in a Beirut port warehouse killed more than 200 people and injured thousands more. The explosion destroyed the harbor and its surroundings. [lt/jm]

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