Beirut fires: Six dead in street violence when tensions erupt over explosives – World News

GRAPHIC WARNING: Bullets bounced off buildings and people ran for protection during shootings triggered by an investigation into a deadly blast that killed 200 people

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

Six people have died in the worst street violence in Beirut since more than a decade has been caused by an investigation into a deadly explosion.

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

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said snipers had opened fire on people.

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

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its ally, the Shiite Amal Movement, accused the Lebanese forces (LF), a Christian party with close ties to Saudi Arabia, of attacking its supporters, who gathered to demand the removal of the judge investigating last year’s port bombing.



Bullets bounced off buildings and people ran for protection
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Picture:

APAImages / REX / Shutterstock)




The blast killed 200 people, injured thousands and destroyed beaches in Beirut.

The LF denied any involvement and condemned the violence, which it accused of Hezbollah’s “incitement” against Judge Tarek Bitar, the leading investigator in the port bombing.

The army initially said shootings had targeted protesters as they passed through the Teyouneh Circle, which divides Christian and Shiite Muslim neighborhoods.

It later said there had been a “brawl and arson” when protesters were on their way to 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 continued Judge Bitar’s investigation would divide the country, the violence could create an excuse to shut down or shut down further investigations into the explosion.

Judge Bitar has tried to question a number of senior politicians and security officials, including Hezbollah’s allies, suspected of negligence that led to the port explosion.

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

Everyone has denied the crime.



Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said snipers had opened fire
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Picture:

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)




Lebanese President Michel Aoun promised that those responsible for the shooting would be held accountable and said in a televised speech that it was “unacceptable that weapons are once again a means of communication between Lebanese rivals”.

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

Local television stations broadcast live footage of bullets hitting buildings and residents seeking protection during the attack.

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







The shooting began from the Christian quarter of Ain el-Remmaneh, the site of a massacre that helped ignite the civil war, before a fire broke out, a military source said.

Mr Mawlawi said all the dead were from one side, meaning Shiites.

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

The army flooded the area around Teyouneh, saying it would open fire on all gunmen on the road.

It later said it had arrested nine people, including a Syrian.

Shootings were heard for hours.

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

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



Shootings were heard for hours
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Picture:

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)




“We have many stages after that to complete the recovery.”

The United States and France said that the Lebanese judiciary must be allowed to investigate the port bombing in an independent and impartial manner.

US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said during a visit to Beirut: “The Lebanese people do not deserve less and the victims and families of those lost in the harbor blow do not deserve less.

“This unacceptable violence makes clear what the efforts are.”

On Wednesday, Geagea dismissed what he described as any submission to “intimidation” by Hezbollah over Judge Bitar, urging the Lebanese to be ready for peaceful strikes if the “other side” tried to impose its will by force.

Although none of its members has been subjected to the probe, Hezbollah has accused Judge Bitar of conducting a politicized investigation targeting only certain individuals.


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