Clashes broke out Thursday in Beirut, Lebanon, as demonstrations were held as a judge is investigating the deadly port blast from August 2020.
At least six people were killed and dozens were injured in violent protests organized by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to remove the lead judge, Tarek Bitar, who is investigating the port explosion that killed at least 216 and injured over 6,500, The Associated Press reported.
Commotion went on for hours as gunfire was exchanged between right-wing Christian Lebanese Forces, which called on supporters to defend the protest at the Justice Palace, against Hezbollah and Shiite allies from the Amal Movement.
Hezbollah and its allied groups have continuously accused Bitar of singling out Hezbollah-affiliated politicians for questioning, according to the AP.
[WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO]
— nbnlebanon (@nbntweets) October 14, 2021
The Lebanese Red Cross reported six deaths as a result of the exchanges, CNN reported. Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said snipers shot from buildings and gunmen “shot people in the head,” while rocket-propelled grenades fired from side-to-side. Lebanon has seen tensions rise as the nation faces hyperinflation and an overloaded energy crisis resulting in prolonged electricity blackouts.
This is the moment Al Jazeera’s @ZeinakhodrAljaz was interrupted by gunfire and RPG explosions in Beirut.
Several people have been killed and dozens wounded by gunfire at a Hezbollah-led protest over the Beirut port investigation https://t.co/eLOzrlE4PE
Follow the latest ⬇ pic.twitter.com/IHZf6SnbdQ
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 14, 2021
The investigation is focused on the hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate that detonated in a port warehouse in August 2020.
A cabinet meeting set to take place Wednesday was canceled after Hezbollah called on the government to take action against the judge in charge of the port blast probe. A Hezbollah-allied minister said he along with other Shiite cabinet members would stage a walkout if Bitar isn’t removed, according to the AP.