six people are reported to have been killed and many injured in the ongoing Beirut protest, in the capital of Lebanon.
According to the report by AFP, the Beirut protest which has resulted in so many destructions, saw demonstrators calling for the removal of the Judge in charge of the investigation into the explosion at the port of the Lebanese capital, which had left 214 dead and more than 6,500 injured in August 2020.
The report stated that the Beirut protest was organized by the Shiite movements Hezbollah and Amal.
According to a first assessment at midday, a man had been killed by a shot in the head and a second had been hit in the chest, said Mariam Hassan, of the Sahel hospital, in the southern suburbs of Beirut. The national news agency (ANI, official) had reported a third death in Rassoul al-Aazam hospital, also in the southern Shiite suburbs. It is said to be a woman who allegedly received a stray bullet in her home. The injuries of the other three victims are not yet known.
Ambulances were pouring in to take care of the wounded in the deserted streets, near the courthouse where hundreds of demonstrators had gathered to demand the departure of judge Tarek Bitar, at the heart of a smear campaign in recent days. AFP correspondents heard heavy gunfire in the area, as local channels showed men carrying small and medium weapons.
On social media, images showed schoolchildren from an area establishment hiding under their desks or gathered on the floor in front of classrooms.
In a joint statement, the two Shiite movements for their part accused “snipers posted on the roofs of buildings” in the area of having fired on the demonstrators. However, the sequence of events that led to the conflagration remains unclear.
Prime Minister Nagib Mikati called for a return to calm and warned against attempts to drag Lebanon into a cycle of violence. For the Minister of the Interior Bassam Mawlawi, the hypothesis of the snipers is plausible, since victims were hit in the head according to him.
The demonstration took place at the same place where the relatives of the victims of the explosion regularly gather to demand that the investigation be concluded. It came just after the Court of Cassation dismissed complaints from former ministers against Tarek Bitar, allowing him to resume his investigations.
He was forced on Tuesday to suspend his investigation after the complaints, sparking the most serious crisis in the Lebanese government since its formation last month.
The explosion on August 4, 2020 and caused by the storage without precautionary measures of huge quantities of ammonium nitrate left at least 214 dead, more than 6,500 injured and devastated several neighbourhoods of the capital