The state news agency NNA reported three deaths during the clashes in the Lebanese capital. An emergency room doctor at Beirut’s al-Sahel hospital, who did not want to be named earlier, told CNN that the hospital has received one death and nine injuries since the violence broke out.
Hundreds of supporters of Hezbollah, backed by Iran and its main Shia ally, Amal, marched on the city’s Justice Palace on Thursday when shots were fired at protesters from an unknown location, forcing protesters and journalists to take cover, according to a army. statement and local TV stations.
There are several local reports that snipers are shooting at protesters from the roofs of buildings in the area. Local TV and social media videos also showed a masked protester firing what appeared to be AK-47s behind street barriers and trash cans, apparently firing back at armed men and black smoke rising from one of The nearby buildings.
In a statement on Thursday, the Lebanese military, which spread widely to the scene of the shootings, said it would shoot any gunman in the areas where the clashes took place, urging people to leave the streets.
“It is clear that those who shot at the protesters were organized armed groups that have been planning this attack since yesterday,” a senior Hezbollah official told CNN. “We do not want to fire back. They want to drag us into civil strife, and we do not want civil strife.”
In a joint statement issued by Hezbollah and Amal, the groups called for “calm” among their supporters on the streets.
Hezbollah has been a staunch opponent of Tariq Bitar, the popular judge who is leading the investigation into the Beirut explosion and has called for the prosecution of high-ranking officials. This week, the judge issued an arrest warrant against lawmaker Ali Hassan Khalil, a top Amal official and former finance minister.
Bitar has also issued arrest warrants against MP Nouhad Machnouk, an ally of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and a former interior minister.
Since his appointment in February, Bitar, who also heads Beirut’s criminal court, has been seeking political and security officials for questioning in the Beirut explosion. He is the second forensic investigator to lead the investigation. The first judge tasked with handling the probe was fired after two ex-ministers accused in the investigation successfully submitted a proposal for removal.
Several legal petitions from officials being prosecuted for dismissing Bitar have failed.
During a televised speech on Monday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah chastised the judge, accusing him of being “politicized”.
This is a news story, more details to follow.
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