At least six dead in Beirut gunfire

14 October 2021
People were protesting against the judge investigating the Beirut port blast

Lebanon’s Public Health Ministry has confirmed that at least six people were killed and 32 wounded in gunfire outside the Justice Palace in the Tayouneh area of Beirut on Thursday 14 October.

Crowds affiliated with the Shia Muslim political parties Hezbollah and Amal were protesting outside the building against Tarek Bitar, the judge investigating the August 2020 blast at Beirut Port, who has summoned senior political figures for questioning.

After the gunfire, Hezbollah and Amal issued a statement accusing groups affiliated to the Lebanese Forces, a Christian political party, of being behind the attack.

"Within the frame of civilised and peaceful expression of a clear political position from the course of the investigation into the port crime, we organised today a symbolic demonstration outside the Justice Palace in Beirut, where participants were subject to an armed attack by groups from the Lebanese Forces party that deployed in neighbouring streets and on rooftops, and engaged in direct sniping activity and intentional killing," Hezbollah and Amal said in a joint statement.

The Lebanese Forces party then issued a statement rejecting these claims.

"Accusing the Lebanese Forces is refused, and it aims to deviate attention from Hezbollah's invasion of this region," the statement read.

This attack will put additional pressure on Lebanon. The country has been in a state of turmoil for much of the past two years. Its economy was already faltering before the Covid-19 health crisis. The economic disruption caused by the pandemic, the August 2020 port blast and the inability to form a new government for much of the past year have meant even greater hardship.

A political breakthrough was made in September this year when Najib Mikati reached an agreement to form a government with himself as prime minister. When announcing his government, Mikati warned that the economy was heading towards a hard landing.  

Since then, there have been blackouts in the country as fuel shortages have prevented electricity providers from generating power.

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