At least six people have been killed in an attack on a protest rally in Beirut. The demonstration was organized by Hezbollah and its participants demanded the dismissal of the judge who is working on the case of the explosion in the port of Beirut last year.
According to the Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah, the dead were Shiite Muslims, and they were opened fire by members of the right-wing Christian party fortified in a nearby building.
Hezbollah has accused the Lebanese Christian Lebanese Forces Party of attacking Shiite protesters without providing evidence and has demanded that the country’s armed forces arrest the attackers.
A bomb blast near the northern city of Beirut last August killed at least 200 people. Then the country suffered significant economic losses, the consequences of which continue to this day.
Najib Mikati took over as prime minister last month. Prior to that, the composition of the cabinet, amid a deep “economic depression”, was followed by a serious political crisis.
Judge Tarek Bitar has questions about the blast to one of his cabinet members and is seeking his removal.
Against this background, the influence of the Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah is becoming even clearer. The group accuses the judge of politicizing the case and demands his release.
The international community, the countries from which the Lebanese government expects assistance, is calling for a fair and transparent investigation into the blast.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Ned Price says Hezbollah is threatening the Lebanese judiciary and putting the interests of its own and Iran above the interests of the Lebanese people. Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlola says such statements violate Lebanon’s sovereignty.