Lebanon is feared to spiral into violence after sectarian clashes in Beirut | DW News

Hezbollah and the right-wing Lebanese Forces Party pointed fingers at one another after deadly skirmishes in Beirut on Thursday. Gunfire killed at least six people and wounded about 30 others in the Lebanese capital as tensions flared during a protest against the lead judge investigating last year’s massive blast at Beirut’s port. The Lebanese Forces, a right-wing Christian political party which sits in Lebanon’s parliament, claimed Hezbollah is engaging in "incitement" against the lead judge in the probe. Hezbollah, on the other hand, blamed gunmen from the Lebanese Forces for the violence.

The protest outside the Justice Palace was called for by Hezbollah and its supporters as a court on Thursday dismissed the latest legal complaint brought against Judge Tarek Bitar, allowing him to resume work. Protesters had called for his removal. The gunfire began when people heading to the protest organized by the Hezbollah and Amal groups passed through the Christian neighborhood of Ain el-Remmaneh in Beirut. Two explosions were heard as people ran for cover. Ambulance sirens were heard through the city and the Lebanese army deployed patrols to seek out the perpetrators.

The Lebanese Army said in a separate statement later in the day that nine people had been arrested following the shootings, including a Syrian national. Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for the arrest of those responsible for the shootings as he appealed for calm on Thursday. He urged people "not to be dragged into civil strife." Mikati also said Friday will a national day of mourning for the lives lost in the violence. Lebanese President Michel Aoun called the day’s events "unacceptable" and said those held responsible for the violence will be held accountable. Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the clashes were reminiscent of the country’s deadly civil war, which lasted between 1975 and 1990.

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