At least five people died this Thursday, October 14, after shots were registered in the middle of a protest in the Lebanese capital, according to military sources. The demonstration was called by the Hezbollah group and its allies demanding the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar, who is trying to investigate several former ministers, suspected of negligence, for the Beirut port explosion in 2020, which left at least 215 people dead.
Violence erupts in Lebanon as discord over the Beirut port blast investigation increases.
Several shots rang out in the Lebanese capital during a protest against Tarek Bitar, the chief judge investigating last year’s massive detonation in the city’s port. At least five people died this Thursday.
It is not yet clear who started the fire, but tensions were high at the start of the day between the Muslim Shiite and Christian areas, with long-standing clashes.
Right-wing Lebanese Christian Forces mobilized supporters on Wednesday night after Hezbollah and its allies called for an October 14 protest against the magistrate, in front of the Palace of Justice, located in a Christian area.
A correspondent for the AP news agency claimed that she saw a man open fire with a pistol during the demonstration, as well as armed men firing in the direction of protesters from the balcony of a building.
Immediately there was a strong deployment of the Army that sent vehicles to the area to search for the alleged aggressors. The military warned that they would open fire on anyone who fired and called on civilians to evacuate the area.
Through a statement, the country’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for calm and urged the population “not to be dragged into civil conflicts.”
The explosion on August 4, 2020 in the port of Beirut, caused by the storage without precautionary measures of large quantities of ammonium nitrate, left at least 214 dead, more than 6,500 injured and devastated several neighborhoods in the capital.
Indicated of criminal negligence, the authorities reject any international investigation and are accused by the families of the victims and the NGOs of obstructing the local investigation.
With AFP, Reuters and AP