Beirut / Wassim Seif El-Din and Naim Berjawi / Anatolia
5 people were killed and 16 others were injured in a shooting that is still going on in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, as of 12:30 GMT Thursday.
After an extraordinary meeting of the Central Security Council, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said during a press conference: “There is information about 5 dead and 16 wounded, distributed among hospitals.”
The official news agency had reported earlier that there were 4 dead and 20 wounded.
Moloy explained that “the problem started with shooting through snipers, and the first person was hit in the head (…) shooting in the head is a very dangerous matter.”
He continued, “We will ask politicians to take the necessary measures in politics and abroad to control the situation, because evading it is not in anyone’s interest.”
The security deterioration began with unknown assailants shooting heavily at supporters of the “Hezbollah” group and the “Amal” movement during a Shiite demonstration, denouncing the decisions of the judicial investigator in the case of the Beirut port explosion, Judge Tariq Al-Bitar.
Hezbollah and Amal said in a joint statement: “After the participants in the peaceful assembly went to the Palace of Justice to denounce the politicization of the investigation into the port issue, and upon their arrival in the Tayouneh area (mixed Shiite south and Christian north), they were directly shot by Snipers are on the rooftops.
The two sides considered that “this attack by armed and organized groups aims to drag the country into an intentional strife.”
They called on the army to “assume responsibility and intervene quickly to stop these criminals,” and urged “all supporters and partisans to calm down.”
The army also said, in a statement, that the demonstrators came under fire in the Tayouneh-Badaro area, and that it rushed to cordon off the area and spread in its neighborhoods, and began searching for the shooters to arrest them.
Later, witnesses reported the spread of armed supporters of “Hezbollah” and “Amal”, and their shooting towards buildings suspected of shooting at the demonstration in the area near the headquarters of the “Palace of Justice” in Beirut.
Until 12:30 GMT, intense shooting continues in the Tayouneh area and internal residential streets, as well as in the areas of Chiyah (a Shiite majority) and Ain al-Rummaneh (a Christian majority). Tayouneh is located on the intersection between Ain El-Remmaneh and Chiah.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun made contacts with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the Ministers of Defense and Interior, and the Army Commander, to follow up on security developments in Beirut, according to a presidential statement.
Mikati called on everyone to calm down and not be drawn into sedition for any reason, and requested an emergency meeting of the Central Security Council.
The army stated, via “Twitter”, that Mikati, accompanied by Defense Minister Maurice Selim, arrived at the Army Command’s operations room, to follow up on the situation with the Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun.
Last July, Judge Al-Bitar indicted 10 officials and officers, including two deputies from “Amal”, Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zuaiter, and former Prime Minister Hassan Diab.
Earlier on Thursday, the Court of Cassation rejected a second request to dismiss Al-Bitar, submitted by Khalil and Zuaiter, accusing the judge of “violating constitutional principles and exceeding the powers of the Parliament and the Supreme Council to try presidents and ministers.”
There are fears in the Lebanese political circles that the investigation file into the port explosion may explode the political and governmental situation.
And on Monday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah considered Al-Bitar’s work “political targeting and has nothing to do with justice.”
And on Wednesday, the Lebanese presidency announced the postponement of a cabinet session that was scheduled for the same day, without mentioning the reasons for the decision.
However, an informed source told Anadolu Agency that the delay came after the Hezbollah and Amal ministers demanded to “discuss the circumstances surrounding the investigation into a port explosion, and take a position on this issue.”
On August 4, 2020, a massive explosion occurred in the port, killing 217 people and wounding about 7,000 others, as well as massive material damage to residential and commercial buildings.
According to preliminary official information, the explosion occurred in the 12 berth of the port, which the authorities say contained about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which had been confiscated from a ship and stored since 2014.
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