UPDATED: Death toll rises in protests held against judge in Beirut blast case


Published: 2021-10-14 12:00

Last Updated: 2021-11-30 04:38

UPDATED: Death toll rises in protests held against judge in Beirut blast case
UPDATED: Death toll rises in protests held against judge in Beirut blast case

At least six people were killed and 30 others were injured Thursday in an exchange of fire that coincided with a demonstration by supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal movement against the judicial investigator in the Beirut port explosion case.

AFP correspondents heard heavy gunfire and two explosions in the Tayouneh area of Beirut. 

Local media circulated videos showing armed men firing in the streets, amid reports of snipers in the buildings.

The Lebanese army announced that "while protesters were heading to the Adliya area, they were exposed to bursts of fire in the Tayouneh area - Badaro, and the army rushed to cordon off the area.”

The Lebanese army sent reinforcements to the Tayouneh and near the Palace of Justice areas in Beirut, and later announced the closure of surrounding schools and institutions in the Tayouneh area.

President Michel Aoun contacted Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the Ministers of Defense and Interior, and the Army Commander, and followed up with them on the developments of the situation in light of the events that occurred in the Tayouneh area and its suburbs, in order to address the situation in preparation for the necessary action.

Earlier Thursday, dozens of Hezbollah and Amal supporters demonstrated in front of the Palace of Justice in Beirut, rejecting the performance of the judicial investigator in the Beirut port explosion, who has requested to prosecute political and security officials.

The demonstration coincided with the rejection by the Civil Court of Cassation of a lawsuit filed by two former ministers requesting that Bitar be removed from the case, allowing him to resume his investigations.

Dozens demonstrated Thursday in front of the Palace of Justice, according to AFP correspondents, amid hearing heavy gunfire in a nearby area.

The ministers of Hezbollah, the most prominent political and military force, and its ally, the Amal movement, lead the position that rejects Bitar's work, accusing him of "discrimination and politicization."

Many fear that pressure will lead to the ouster of Bitar, similar to his predecessor Fadi Sawan, who was removed in February after accusing political officials.

Since Bitar's claim against former Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his request to prosecute deputies, former ministers and security officials, four concerned ministers have submitted complaints before multiple courts demanding that the case be transferred from Bitar, forcing him to suspend the investigation into the case twice so far.