Lebanese militant group Hezbollah reportedly said on Friday it would not allow an outbreak of violence to escalate into a civil war.
“We will not be dragged into civil war, but at the same time we will not allow the blood of our martyrs to go to waste,” Hezbollah leader Hashem Safidin said during a speech at the funeral of three members of the street violence. According to Reuters.
Seven people were killed and 20 others injured in a gunfight in the Lebanese capital on Thursday amid protests by a judge probing last year’s deadly port explosion. It was the deadliest outbreak in the country in more than a decade.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for peace to be restored and urged people “not to be dragged into civil strife”. The army warned that it would open fire against anyone firing live rounds.
It was not immediately clear what led to Thursday’s violence.
Supporters of the terrorist group Hezbollah and its allies gathered near the Palace of Justice in Beirut to rally against Judge Tarek Bitter. Groups have demanded his removal, accusing him of conducting political investigations separately to some authorities.
Hezbollah and the ally Shia Amal movement accused the Lebanese Forces (LF), a Christian political party, of the attack.
The Left denied involvement and said the violence was caused by Hezbollah “incitement” against the judge.
Home Minister Bassam Moulvi said all those killed were from one side, suggesting that they were Shia.
UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Vronecka in a statement stressed the need for Lebanese leaders to prioritize the interests of their citizens amid the unrest.
“Getting Lebanon out of its current crisis and moving forward on reforms requires the efficient functioning of the state’s legislative, executive and judicial institutions,” Wroneka said.
“Now is the time for all parties to support judicial independence in the interest of the people,” he said.
In August 2020, an explosion involving improperly placed ammonium nitrate at a warehouse in the port of Beirut killed more than 200 people and injured thousands, destroying parts of the surrounding areas.
Some information for this report has come from The Associated Press, AFP and Reuters.