Beirut shooting: six dead in street violence as tensions over explosion probe erupt – world news


GRAPHIC IMAGES WARNING: Bullets bounced off buildings and people ran for cover in flurry of gunfire that was triggered by an investigation into a deadly explosion that killed 200 people

Six people have died in Beirut’s worst street violence in more than a decade

Six people have died in the worst street violence Beirut has seen in more than a decade, sparked by an investigation into a deadly explosion.

Bullets bounced off buildings and people ran for cover during bursts of gunfire that lasted for several hours on what was once a front line in the war.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said snipers opened fire and aimed at people’s heads.

A witness claimed that teachers at a school were forced to tell their young students to lie face down on the ground with their hands on their heads.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its ally, the Shiite movement Amal, accused the Lebanese Forces (FL), a Christian party closely linked to Saudi Arabia, of attacking its supporters, who were rallying to demand the impeachment of the judge. investigating last year’s port explosion.








Bullets bounced off buildings and people ran for cover
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Picture:

APAImages / REX / Shutterstock)




The explosion killed 200 people, injured thousands and devastated parts of Beirut.

The LF denied any involvement and condemned the violence, which it blamed on Hezbollah “inciting” Judge Tarek Bitar, the lead investigator into the port blast.

The army first said shots were fired at protesters as they crossed the Teyouneh roundabout dividing Shia Christian and Muslim neighborhoods.

He later said there was an “altercation and exchange of gunfire” as the protesters walked towards the demonstration.








The army flooded the area around Teyouneh
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Picture:

APAImages / REX / Shutterstock)




The deaths come after repeated warnings from Hezbollah and its allies that Judge Bitar’s continued investigation would divide the country, the violence may create a pretext to close or suspend a further investigation into the explosion.

Judge Bitar sought to interview a number of senior politicians and security officials, including allies of Hezbollah, suspected of negligence which led to the explosion of the port.

The fatal explosion was caused by a huge amount of ammonium nitrate and one of the largest non-nuclear explosions on record.

All denied wrongdoing.








Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi says snipers opened fire
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Picture:

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)




Lebanese President Michel Aoun vowed that those responsible for the gunfire would be held accountable, saying in a televised speech that it was “unacceptable that guns are once again the means of communication between Lebanese rivals”.

LF leader Samir Geagea, whose group had a powerful militia during the war, said earlier that the shooting was the result of uncontrolled weapons in society, saying civil peace must be preserved.

Local television stations broadcast live footage of bullets hitting buildings and residents running for cover during the attack.

A military source said one of the victims was a woman who was shot in her home.




The shooting began in the Christian quarter of Ain el-Remmaneh, the site of a massacre that helped spark the civil war, before escalating into a firefight, a military source said.

Mr Mawlawi said all the dead were on one side, i.e. Shiites.

Hezbollah and the Amal movement said groups fired at protesters from rooftops, aimed at their heads in an attack they said was aimed at dragging Lebanon into the conflict.

The army flooded the area around Teyouneh and said it would open fire on any armed person in the road.

He later said he arrested nine people, including a Syrian.

Bursts of gunfire were heard for hours.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati told Reuters the events were a setback for the government but would be overcome.

He added: “Lebanon is going through a difficult phase, not easy. We are like a patient in the emergency room.








Bursts of gunfire were heard for hours
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Picture:

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)




“We have a lot of steps after this to complete the recovery.”

The United States and France have said that Lebanese justice must be allowed to investigate the port explosion independently and impartially.

US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said during a visit to Beirut: “The Lebanese people deserve no less and the victims and families of those lost in the port blast deserve no less. .

“This unacceptable violence clearly shows what the stakes are.”

Mr Geagea on Wednesday rejected what he described as any submission to Hezbollah’s “intimidation” of Judge Bitar, calling on the Lebanese to prepare for a peaceful strike if “the other side” tries. to impose his will by force.

Although none of its members were targeted by the investigation, Hezbollah accused Judge Bitar of conducting a politicized investigation focused only on certain individuals.


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