Lebanon is on a day of mourning, a day after bloody protests in the capital Beirut.
At least six people were killed and 32 others were injured in the shooting.
The violence erupted during a protest by Shiite Muslim groups Hezbollah and Amal against a judge investigating last year’s blast at the city port.
They said snipers from Lebanese Christian forces fired on the crowds, but this was denied by the Lebanese forces themselves.
“We will not allow anyone to take our country hostage for their own interests,” said Lebanese President Michel Aoun.
A bomb blast near the port of Beirut in August last year killed at least 219 people.
Investigations into the incident have been followed by constant tensions. Shiites and Christians are divided on opposite sides.
Judge Tarek Bitar has sought to question several politicians and security officials, including Hezbollah allies, on suspicion of neglecting port security.
All of them have denied any wrongdoing.
Hezbollah, a heavily armed Iranian-backed group, is demanding the judge’s dismissal, accusing him of bias, but the victims’ families support his work.
The issue is also sensitive to the fact that the blast at the port has caused more Muslim casualties, but most of the physical damage has occurred in predominantly Christian areas.
The blast caused $ 15 billion in property damage and left some 300,000 people homeless.
Thursday’s clashes in Beirut lasted several hours. Hospital and military sources said some of those killed had been shot in the head.
“The main cause of these developments lies in the presence of uncontrolled weapons, which threaten citizens at any time and in any place,” said the leader of the Lebanese forces, Samir Geagea.
The Lebanese army said it had launched foot patrols in the area. According to her, the people armed with automatic rifles and grenade launchers were members of Shiite and Christian militias.
The violence was described as the worst in Lebanon in more than a decade.
“Lebanon is going through a difficult phase. “We are like a patient in front of the emergency room,” Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati told Reuters.
Fearing a return to sectarian violence, the US State Department called for a “reduction of tensions” in Lebanon.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all parties to refrain from provocative actions and provocative rhetoric.
Saudi Arabia said it hoped the situation in Lebanon would stabilize. The civil war in Lebanon, from 1975 to 1990, left over 120,000 people dead.
In addition to the recent violence, this country is also going through a difficult economic situation.
Lebanon’s financial system collapsed in 2019, after decades of corruption.
Over the past two years, the country’s currency has lost more than 90% of its value and the World Bank has described the economic crisis there as one of the deepest depressions in modern history.
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