Several people were killed and dozens more injured when gunfire erupted during a demonstration in Beirut by the armed group Hezbollah and its allies against the senior judge investigating last year’s massive explosion in the city’s port.
At least six people were killed and 25 injured in the gunfire, the Lebanese Red Cross told Al Jazeera.
The exchanges of fire involving snipers, pistols, automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades have been a dangerous escalation of tensions over the national investigation.
Gunshots echoed through the capital and ambulances rushed to the scene, sirens blaring. Snipers shot from buildings. Bullets penetrated the windows of apartments in the neighborhood. Four projectiles fell near a private French school, Frères de Furn el Chebbak, causing panic, a security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Students huddled in the central hallways with the windows open to avoid the major effect, in scenes reminiscent of the 1975-90 Civil War.
The demonstration in front of the Palace of Justice was demanded by the powerful Hezbollah group and its allies, which demand the impeachment of Judge Tarek Bitar.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the gunfire, but tensions were high along a former civil war frontline between Shiite and Christian areas.
In a statement, Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for calm and urged people “not to get caught up in civil war”.