The Lebanese government has been investigating a blast that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, but the Hezbollah-led opposition is demanding an end to the inquiry.
The beirut blast is a recent explosion that occurred in Beirut, Lebanon. Following the explosion, there were reports of gunfights in the area.
BEIRUT— Following a protest by the powerful Hezbollah group aimed at opposing a senior judge’s attempts to hold authorities responsible, tensions over a court investigation into last year’s catastrophic Beirut port explosion escalated into street riots and gunbattles in the Lebanese capital.
Unidentified gunmen shot at demonstrators on their way to the rally, according to the Lebanese army, which deployed troops into the streets to quell the violence.
“Army forces have been dispatched and will fire on anybody who is armed and present on the streets, as well as anyone who fires from any other location,” the military stated in a statement posted on Twitter. Civilians were also urged to evacuate the streets.
In a statement, Hezbollah also claimed that snipers had shot at its supporters. The shooters were fired at by members of the pro-Hezbollah mob.
Hezbollah claimed that the shooting was targeted at heads.
On Thursday, Lebanese security troops were seen in Beirut. Civilians were urged to evacuate the streets by the military.
Associated Press photo/Hussein Malla
After the army intervened, the fighting ceased early Thursday afternoon.
Associated Press photo/Hussein Malla
According to a spokesman for the Lebanese Red Cross, six persons were murdered and thirty others were injured in the confrontations.
Hezbollah accused the Lebanese Authorities, a right-wing Christian organization, of shooting on its supporters and demanded that the culprits be apprehended by security forces. The Lebanese Forces, a long-time adversary of Hezbollah, have asked that the Islamist group be disarmed.
“Hezbollah is forcing people to choose between civil war and Tarek Bitar’s resignation,” claimed Charles Jabbour, a Lebanese Forces communications spokesman. He vehemently denied that his gang was engaged in the brawl. “What occurred was that when Hezbollah supporters assaulted the area, the residents of the neighborhood retaliated.”
Following the army’s involvement, fighting started in the late hours of Thursday morning and lasted virtually uninterrupted until early afternoon. According to the Lebanese Red Cross, people were evacuated from their houses when the fighting subsided. Women and children were seen crying as they left their homes in live video from the location of the confrontations, and parents wept for their children having to see what they had witnessed more than 20 years earlier.
The shooters were fired at by members of the pro-Hezbollah mob. A guy is getting ready to launch a rocket-propelled grenade.
AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS/AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS/AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS/
The sounds of gunshots and explosions echoed the country’s 15-year civil war, which split Beirut along sectarian lines and divided it into warlord-ruled areas. Although the conflict ended in 1990, the fights on Thursday took place along the fault lines that had split the city 21 years before.
Hezbollah accused Tarek Bitar, the judge in charge of the Beirut explosion inquiry, of politicizing the case and concentrating on the group’s government allies. During a televised address earlier this week, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stated, “This is political targeting and has nothing to do with justice and the truth.”
Last year, an explosion in Beirut’s harbor killed almost 200 people. Around 7,000 people were wounded in the explosion, which wreaked havoc on some of Beirut’s busiest residential and business districts. Many of the affected areas have yet to fully recover.
The explosion accelerated Lebanon’s economic collapse. Concurrent economic and budgetary problems have made Lebanon’s economy one of the worst in the world over a year after the explosion.
Snipers shot at Hezbollah supporters, according to Hezbollah.
Getty Images/Anwar Amro/Agence France-Presse
After gunshots erupted in Beirut, troops from the Lebanese army monitored the area.
MOHAMED AZAKIR/REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR/REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR/RE
According to the World Bank, Lebanon is engulfed in one of the world’s three biggest economic crises in the last 150 years. Millions of people were driven into poverty as a result of the economic collapse, which was exacerbated by the Covid-19 epidemic.
Many in Lebanon, including the relatives of those killed in the explosion, regard Mr. Bitar as their last hope for justice.
“We believe in and trust this judge.” “We support him and reject anything made against him in political party speeches and the media,” said Paul Naggear, whose 3-year-old daughter was murdered in the blast.
“Seeing the ruling mafia’s response is an argument in support of the judge’s competency,” he added.
Huge crowds gathered in Beirut’s harbor to mark the one-year anniversary of the bombing that killed more than 200 people. During an economic crisis that has resulted in severe food shortages, protestors fought with police. Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images/Patrick Baz
The port explosion inquiry is one of the rare occasions Lebanon’s political elite has been held accountable for their conduct. Many in the nation accuse them of ineptitude, corruption, and negligence, claiming that their bad leadership caused the economy to collapse and contributed to the port mismanagement that resulted in the explosion last year.
“The findings of Bitar’s investigation will have ramifications not only for justice in the Beirut blast case, but also for the type of state Lebanon will become: one in which the powerful can literally get away with murder, or one in which everyone is subject to the same rule of law,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon Researcher at Human Rights Watch.
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