More than 30 people were also injured after gunfire broke out near a protest rally in the Lebanese capital.
The gunfire killed at least five people and wounded more than 30 in Beirut, according to the Lebanese Red Cross, as a demonstration organized by the Hezbollah and Amal movements to demand the removal of the lead investigator in last year’s port explosion broke out. returned violent.
Hundreds of participants gathered at the Beirut Palace of Justice on Thursday to call for the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar, accusing him of political bias. Bursts of gunfire were heard coming from the nearby Tayyoune neighborhood, dispersing angry protesters. The Lebanese army intervened and the clashes continued for hours.
“The army rushed to cordon off the area and deploy in its neighborhoods and its entrance. The patrols and the search for the shooters began to stop them, ”the armed forces said in a statement.
The identities and affiliations of the shooters were not immediately clear.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for calm to be restored and warned against attempts to drag Lebanon into violence.
Here are the latest updates:
Beirut incident saw ‘live ammunition headshots’
After meeting with the heads of the security agencies, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said in a statement that “the security agencies knew of the meetings that took place, but had no indicators that could turn into headshots with live ammunition “.
“You do not play with civil peace among the Lebanese.”
Mawlawi said an investigation is underway and all security measures will be taken.
Children trapped by fighting
Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut, said the children were trapped in the school due to the clashes.
“There is a street that divides these two political parties, long-time enemies that are now exploding. People are trapped at home, some children are still trapped at school. People are terrified, ”he said.
“They don’t know what is happening in their city. About 200 meters (656 feet) from here is a decades-long dividing line dating back to the days of the civil war (1975-1990).
“It is scenes like this that bring back many memories to many Lebanese who have been traumatized by many episodes of violence, but this has been one of the worst episodes of violence.”
Civil defense seeks to evacuate residents caught in crossfire
Al Jazeera’s Kareem Chehayeb, reporting from Beirut, said civil defense was trying to help evacuate residents caught in the crossfire.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati is currently meeting with the heads of the security agencies as clashes continue, he added.