During a rally in Beirut against the Port Blast Judge, deadly chaos erupts.
After a demonstration organized by Shiite groups against the chief investigator into last year’s tragic port bomb turned violent, Beirut was turned into a war zone. Tank deployments and deadly exchanges of fire turned Beirut into a war zone Thursday.
Ambulances hurried the wounded through the desolate streets, just a few blocks from the Palace of Justice, where hundreds of black-clad demonstrators had congregated to demand Tarek Bitar’s ouster moments before.
The Hezbollah and Amal parties have recently targeted the judge for persisting on subpoenaing key officials in his investigation into last year’s devastating port blast.
At least three individuals were murdered and 20 others were injured, according to medics, all of them were shot.
AFP correspondents in the region heard multiple loud explosions, most likely from heavy shelling, and observed black plumes rising from a fire.
Residents hid in corridors away from windows, some of which had been smashed by gunfire.
Children in a nearby school were seen ducking under desks and gathering on the floor outside classrooms, according to photos circulating on social media.
Bissan al-Fakih, who lives a few hundred meters (yards) away from the confrontations, said, “I’m with my cousin and aunt, and we’re sheltering in a two-square-meter gap between rooms because we’re frightened of stray gunfire.”
“We’re thinking of leaving, but we’re not sure there’s a way out.”
In the predominantly Shiite southern suburbs, the army reported “bursts of gunfire in the neighborhood of Tayouneh – Badaro.”
“The soldiers moved quickly to seal off the area and deploy in the surrounding neighborhoods and entrances. Patrols began, as did the hunt for the shooters in order to apprehend them “It was stated.
In a follow-up statement, the army cautioned that anyone firing live ammunition would be shot, and that civilians should flee the area.
“Hezbollah coming to the streets and pouring its weight behind this battle… could result in major riots and the destabilization of the entire country,” political expert Karim Bitar said.
Najib Mikati, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, urged for peace to be restored and warned against dragging Lebanon into bloodshed.
Hezbollah and Amal issued a statement accusing “armed and organized organizations” of assaulting their supporters.
In an united statement, they said they were “subject to direct fire from snipers… followed by intensive firing.”
They said the violence was planned and intended at dragging the country into chaos, while urging their followers to remain calm and de-escalate the situation.
Many Lebanese see it as their final hope for justice. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.