October 14 (NWN) – At least five people were killed and 30 injured in a shootout on Thursday during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon.
Protesters were fired at as Iranian-backed Hezbollah supporters marched to the city’s Palace of Justice to protest a judge who tried to prosecute high-ranking officials in the deadly blast in the port of Beirut last year.
“It is clear that those who shot the protesters were organized armed groups who had been planning this attack since yesterday,” a senior Hezbollah official told CNN. “We will not shoot. They want to drag us into civil strife, but we do not want to sow civil strife. “
The Red Cross dispatched teams to the scene and found at least five people killed and 30 wounded.
According to numerous reports from local residents, snipers fired at the protesters from the rooftops. Masked protesters apparently returned fire, local television and social media videos showed. The Lebanese military said they would shoot at any armed person during the clashes, urging people to clear the streets.
Hezbollah supporters, representing the strongest political party and militant group in Lebanon, together with the allied movement Amal, protested against Judge Tarek Bitar, who had been rejected by the Lebanese high court an hour earlier.
Hezbollah opposed Bitar when he sought to prosecute senior officials in the August 4, 2020 port bombing that killed more than 200 people, injured 6,000 and destroyed areas.
On Tuesday, Bitar issued an arrest warrant for MP Ali Hassan Khalil, a senior Amal official and a former finance minister, prompting backlash.
A year later, an investigation into the explosion did not establish what exactly caused the explosion or who brought in and hid the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored for seven years in the port before it ignited.
Senior officials took no action to protect people, despite the fact that the explosives for awareness were stored in unsafe conditions, evidence showed, and outrage arose over lack of accountability.
Meanwhile, Lebanon is facing a severe financial and fuel crisis, with food and medicine shortages and power outages.