Beirut, Lebanon: Gunfire erupted at a gathering of Hezbollah supporters here on Thursday, taking at least six lives and wounding more than 30 people, Al Jazeera reports. Hundreds of Hezbollah supporters had gathered at the Beirut Justice Palace demanding the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar from the probe on the Beirut Port explosion, accusing him of bias.
The identity or affiliation of the shooters was not immediately clear, but the army deployed in the area sent troops in search of the gunmen and urged civilians to leave the area.
Hezbollah and its ally Amal said in a joint statement accused the Christian Lebanese Forces (CLF) party of the shooting and said that they sniped at protesters from rooftops intending to kill. The statement but asked their supporters to remain calm and not to be drawn to malicious discord.
However, CLF leader Samir Geagea said in a statement that he condemned Thursday's clashes. He pointed out that the main reason behind such events is loose, widespread weapons that threaten citizens. But he ceased to respond to Hezbollah-Amal accusations.
President Michel Aoun responded that the incident was painful and unacceptable, and it reminds him of days they promised never to repeat and forget, referring to the nation's 1975-90 civil war. Prime Minister Najib Mikati hailed for calm and warned against attempts to drag Lebanon into violence.
Late on Thursday, Lebanon's army informed that nine people were arrested over the violence.
The protesters had gathered in the Lebanese capital after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah scathingly criticised Bitar and accused him of politically targeting officials in his investigation.
More than 200 people were killed and 6,500 injured in Beirut's port last year. Massive stock of unsafely stored ammonium nitrate's detonation has ended in the gruesome explosion, destroying entire neighbourhoods of Lebanon's capital. No officials have been convicted so far.