Wednesday, October 20

Six dead and more than 30 injured after shootings and explosions in Beirut


Street fighting has broken out in connection with a demonstration against the investigation of the explosion in the port of Beirut last year.

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At least six people were killed and more than 30 injured after a fire broke out near a demonstration in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

According to Reuters, all those killed must be Shiite Muslims. A woman is said to have been in her own home when she was hit by the gunfire.

Several explosions, possibly from rocket-propelled grenades, have also been reported.

The street fighting broke out in connection with a planned demonstration against the man leading the investigation into the massive explosion in the port of Beirut in August last year. A group heading to the rally is said to have been attacked in Tayouneh neighborhood, according to Lebanese media.

Shooting is reported at various locations in the city. Several ambulances have moved.

This afternoon the army was sent to Beirut. Much of the city center will be blocked.

According to L’Orient Today, the army has issued a statement saying that the soldiers are ready to open fire on the gunmen in the streets. Civilians have been asked to leave the area around Tayouneh.

Around 2:20 Norway time, there are reports that the matches have broken out again.

A Lebanese government soldier is helping civilians to safety following reports of shootings and explosions in Tayouneh district.

Tense atmosphere

It is unclear what caused the shooting or who is behind it. But the mood is tense along the front line that stretched between the Muslim Shia and Christian areas during the previous civil war.

The Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement called on people to demand the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar as head of the investigation.

On Thursday morning, several hundred supporters of both Hezbollah and the Amal movement, another powerful Shiite group in Lebanon, gathered at the Beirut courthouse.

According to local media, Hezbollah and Amal say in their respective statements that it was members of the right-wing Christian party Al Qouwat al Lubnania who first opened fire on the protesters.

The leader of the party, Samir Geagea, responds in a own declaration that the escalation was due to the “uncontrolled and generalized presence of weapons”.

Hezbollah supporters and the Amal movement hold a poster protesting Judge Tarek Bitar.

Great pressure on referees

It has been more than a year since the big explosion in the port of Beirut in August last year. He took his life at least 215 people.

No one is still responsible. When Aftenposten visited Beirut last week, the families of the victims demonstrated that the investigation must continue without political interference.

The investigation so far has been marked by delays and allegations of corruption.

Various political groups have put enormous pressure on Judge Tarek Bitar. They accuse him of not leading an objective investigation.

For more than a year after the explosion, the survivors continue to demonstrate every month.

Earlier this week, former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil demanded that the investigation be suspended.

It happened after the judge issued an arrest warrant for Khalil and several other politicians. The purpose is to interrogate them as to what they knew about the huge amounts of chemicals stored in the port.

According to the Lebanese media, Khalil is a close ally of Hezbollah, who therefore encouraged his followers to appear in front of the court and demonstrate.

Lebanon is in the midst of an economic crisis that may be among the three worst in the world since the 1850s.

The ground was covered with broken glass following reports of shootings and explosions in Beirut.


www.aftenposten.no

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