Conflicts & War

Nervous calm restored in Beirut following deadly clashes

Beirut, Oct 15 (EFE).- A tense calm was restored in Beirut Friday a day after violent clashes between unidentified rooftop snipers and protesters from the Shia groups Hezbollah and the Amal Movement left seven dead.

A military source who spoke to Efe on the condition of anonymity confirmed a seventh person died Friday from injuries sustained in the unrest that erupted in the Tayouneh neighborhood of the Lebanese capital. The Red Cross said 30 people were injured.

The source said no new arrests had been made Friday and that nine detained on Thursday remained in custody.

The buildings in the area are pockmarked by bullets and broken glass remains strewn on the ground of the Tayouneh neighborhood, which was a frontline between Christian and Shia militias during Lebanon’s sectarian civil war (1975-90).

The violence started Thursday when snipers opened fire on a rally by Hezbollah and Amal members calling for the removal of the judge leading the investigation into the Beirut port blast that killed over 200 people last year and devastated large parts of the capital.

The judge, Tarek Bitar, had issued an arrest warrant for a top Amal official as part of the probe.

A number of current and former Amal lawmakers have been accused of negligence in the investigation into the blast, when over 3,000 tons of poorly-stored ammonium nitrate ignited, causing a huge explosion that was heard as far away as Cyprus.

Hezbollah and Amal said in a joint statement that the Christian Lebanese Forces party was behind the attack, which the group has denied.

The clashes in Beirut served as a reminder of the delicate and often tense relations between communities in a country where confessionalism is a state policy.

It also heaps fresh pressure on a population wracked by a host of troubles, including an acute economic crisis and a shortage of basic commodities.EFE


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