Six killed, dozens wounded in Lebanon violence blamed on US embassy
At least six people have been killed and 60 others injured in Beirut, where armed groups shot from rooftops at Hezbollah supporters, who had gathered to protest against the judge investigating last year's catastrophic port explosion.
Lebanon's al-Mayadeen television said the gunfire at Tayyoune neighborhood on Thursday targeted hundreds of people, who had gathered in the vicinity of Beirut's Justice Palace.
In a statement, Hezbollah and its ally Amal said armed groups affiliated with the Lebanese Forces party led by Samir Geagea fired at the protesters from rooftops, aiming at their heads in an attempt to drag Lebanon into a new sectarian strife.
The resistance parties called on the army to intervene quickly and detain the perpetrators. They also called on their supporters to remain calm and “not be drawn to malicious discord.”
The Lebanese Forces is a Maronite Christian based political party and former Israeli-backed militia during the Lebanese Civil War.
The Lebanese army then intervened, arresting one of the shooters.
The army urged civilians to leave the area around the incident and warned they would shoot anyone opening fire.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati also called for calm and warned against attempts to drag Lebanon into violence.
'US embassy liable for any bloodshed, sedition in Lebanon'
Meanwhile, Grand Shia Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Qabalan has held the US embassy in Beirut and the judge who is probing the Beirut port explosion accountable for any sedition and bloodshed in Lebanon.
“The responsibility for any bloodshed, sedition, threats to domestic peace, and turmoil in Lebanon lies with the US Embassy and Tarek Bitar, who should be removed from the probe and interrogated,” he said in a statement.
He condemned the Tayyoune neighborhood shooting, describing the consequent security and political fallout as “unfortunate and fairly dangerous.”
Sheikh Qabalan called on the Lebanese government and judiciary to take immediate actions and to prevent the country from being drawn into sedition being hatched by Bitar and US agents.
Separately, the Supreme Islamic Shia Council of Lebanon has demanded harsh punishment for those behind the latest deadly unrest in the country.
The council stressed in a statement that any delay in identification and punishment of the perpetrators would lead to a terrible catastrophe.
It warned against attempts aimed at plunging Lebanon into turmoil, calling for vigilance and restraint in order to nip such bids in the bud.