Deadly shooting rocks Beirut as tensions over blast probe erupt
At least two people were killed in Beirut on Thursday when heavy gunfire targeted supporters of the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, as they headed to a protest demanding the removal of the judge investigating last year's explosion at the city's port, Trend reports with reference to Reuters.
The shooting on a frontline of the 1975-90 civil war marks some of Lebanon's worst civil strife in years, and highlights a deepening political crisis over the probe into the catastrophic Aug. 4, 2020 blast.
The Lebanese army said in a statement the gunfire had targeted protesters as they passed through a traffic circle located in an area dividing Christian and Shi'ite Muslim neighbourhoods.
As Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for calm, a military source told Reuters two people had been killed and seven more wounded.
The shooting began from the Christian neighborhood of Ain el-Remmaneh before spiralling into an exchange of fire, the source added.
Hezbollah's al-Manar TV said "two martyrs" and a number of wounded had been taken to a hospital in the Shi'ite southern suburbs, indicating that the casualties were Shi'ites.
Bursts of gunfire were heard for several hours, along with several explosions which appeared to be rocket propelled-grenades fired into the air, Reuters witnesses said.
The Lebanese army deployed heavily in the area and said it would open fire against any armed person on the road.