At least six people were killed and dozens of others were injured in heavy shooting in Beirut, near a demonstration of supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal movement, in protest against a ruling issued Thursday morning rejecting the complaint calling for a change of the judge assigned to the Beirut port explosion case.
The sound of RPG7 rockets was heard in the capital, Beirut, after the army deployed in the streets to prevent any clashes and chase the shooters.
Local television channels broadcast pictures of terrified people in the streets of the capital, Beirut, fleeing the scene of the shooting, in all directions, fearing for their lives.
“Sniping and shooting in the head”
In a press statement after a meeting of the so-called Central Internal Security Council, Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said that the clashes “began with snipers and shootings in the heads,” stressing the importance of maintaining civil peace in the country.
According to reports, cautious calm has returned to the streets of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, after the deployment of army units there.
In its first international reaction to the clashes, France expressed “deep concern” over the unrest in Lebanon and urged the parties to de-escalate the situation. A spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said that the Lebanese judiciary must be able to operate independently and impartially within the framework of the investigation, without hindrance and with the full support of the Lebanese authorities.
A statement by the French Foreign Ministry said, “The Lebanese people are waiting for the Beirut explosion to be shed. The people have the right to know the truth.”
Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said from Beirut that the United States will provide additional aid worth $67 million to support the Lebanese army.
Speaking at a news conference, Nuland said the United States is working with the Lebanese authorities, along with the World Bank and humanitarian agencies, to help the country amid its deep economic crisis. Nuland offered her condolences on behalf of her country to Lebanon in the wake of the violence that erupted in Beirut today, killing at least six people and wounding several others.
Accusations of the Amal Movement and the Lebanese Hezbollah
The Lebanese army had threatened to shoot any gunman on the roads, and said in a tweet via Twitter: “The deployed army units will shoot at any gunman on the roads, and at anyone who shoots from anywhere else and asks civilians to evacuate the streets. “.
The Amal Movement and the Lebanese Hezbollah issued a statement in which they said, “This attack by armed and organized groups aims to drag the country into an intentional sedition, the responsibility of which bears the instigators and the parties that lie behind the blood of the victims and martyrs of the port in order to achieve malicious political gains.” .
They explicitly accused the Lebanese Forces party of “armed attack” on the demonstrators of their supporters. Hezbollah said snipers fired from rooftops at protesters with the intent of killing. ?
The statement added, “The Amal Movement and Hezbollah call on the Lebanese army to assume responsibility and intervene quickly to stop these criminals, and they also call on all supporters and partisans to calm down and not be drawn into malicious sedition.”
The head of the “Lebanese Forces” party, in a statement, denounced the events that took place in the Beirut area, especially the vicinity of the Tayouneh area.
The statement said: “The main reason for these events is the unruly and widespread weapon that threatens citizens at all times and places.”
The head of the Lebanese Forces Party added, “I call on the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, and the Ministers of Defense and Interior to conduct full and accurate investigations to determine the responsibilities for what happened in the capital today.”
The statement concluded by saying: “Civil peace is the only wealth left for us in Lebanon, which we must preserve with the blink of our eyes, but this requires all of us to cooperate to reach it.”
For his part, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for restoring calm and not being drawn into strife.
Mikati said, in a statement today, Thursday, that he followed up with the Lebanese Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, the measures taken by the army to control the situation in the Tayouneh-Adliya area and arrest the perpetrators of the attack.
On Thursday, the Court of Cassation rejected the complaint filed against the investigating judge, Tariq Bitar, and thus allowed him to resume his investigation into the explosion in the port of Beirut last August, which killed more than 200 people.
Since his appointment, Bitar has been subjected to great pressure from political currents accusing him of bias, led by Hezbollah, which called for the judge to be removed.
The dispute escalated between the political currents in Lebanon over the appointment of Bitar to investigate the Beirut port disaster, and the political dispute created divisions that began to disperse the government’s efforts, which are supposed to focus on addressing the severe economic crisis in the country.
Bitar’s critics objected to his attempt to interrogate senior political and security officials on suspicion of complacency, which led to the explosion of a large amount of ammonium nitrate, killing more than 200 people, and destroying large parts of Beirut.
Hundreds gathered Thursday morning in front of the Palace of Justice to participate in the protests against Judge Bitar. The army was deployed in force in the area.
Although the investigation did not include members of Hezbollah, the organization, which is backed by Iran, accused Bitar of “politicizing” the investigation by targeting individuals only.
Among those included in the investigation were allies of Hezbollah, including members of the Shiite Amal movement, which had ministers in the government, during the seven years that ammonium nitrate was stored in the port of Beirut, without observing safety procedures.