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Armed clashes erupted on Thursday during protests in Beirut by terrorist group Hezbollah and its allies against the chief justice probing last year’s major blast in the city’s port. Lebanon’s interior minister said five people were killed and 16 were injured.

Home Minister Bassam Moulvi said many of the casualties were shot by snipers from buildings.

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“This is a very alarming sign,” Mawlawi told reporters. “No one can take it.”

The exchange of fire involving snipers, pistols, Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades was a serious escalation of tensions over domestic investigations, and was the worst armed conflict since 2008, when Shia Hezbollah occupied parts of Beirut. Had taken.

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It was not immediately clear how Thursday’s clashes began. The Amal militia’s Hezbollah group and its Shia allies had called for protests near the Justice Palace, along the front lines of a former civil war between Muslim Shia and Christian regions.

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In a statement on Thursday, both groups said their demonstrators were fired upon by snipers stationed on rooftops in the Tayouneh area.

Gunshots were heard in the capital for several hours and ambulances, sirens were sounding to take casualties. Snipers shot from buildings. The bullets entered the windows of the apartments in the area. Four projectiles fell near a private French school, the Frres of Fern el Chebab, causing panic, as he was not authorized to speak to the press, a security official said on condition of anonymity.

In scenes reminiscent of the Civil War of 1975–90, students hid in central corridors with windows to avoid major impact. There was a plume of smoke in that locality where bullets were being fired continuously. A car caught fire, while a fire was reported in the ground floor where residents were trapped and called for help.

The violence took place when US Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland was meeting with Lebanese officials in the city. His schedule was slightly spoiled by the action on the streets.

The demand for the removal of Bitter and the call for protest upset many.

Right-wing Christian Lebanese forces mobilized supporters Wednesday evening after Hezbollah and Amal called for a protest at the Justice Palace in the Christian region. Videos circulating on social media showed supporters of Christian Lebanese forces marching in the streets, carrying large crosses.

A reporter for The Associated Press saw a man firing a pistol during a protest, with gunmen firing in the direction of protesters from the balcony of a building. Several people fell immediately from the bullets and were bled on the tarmac. After exchanges of gunfire between the Muslim and Christian sides of the capital, the army deployed heavily and sent patrols to the area to search for the gunmen.

An army soldier stands on a vehicle as a supporter of Shia Hezbollah carries a victory sign during the armed conflict that erupts during a protest in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyah, Lebanon, Thursday, October 14, 2021 picking.  Armed conflict broke out in Beirut.  On Thursday, during protests by the chief justice investigating last year's massive explosion in the city's port, tensions over a domestic probe mounted.  (AP photo/Bilal Hussain)

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An emergency room worker at Al-Sahel Hospital said they had found three bodies and that 15 people were injured. One of the dead was shot in the head. Two of the 15 injured are in critical condition.

In a statement, Prime Minister Najib Mikati appealed for calm and urged people “not to be dragged into civil strife”.

The investigation centers on hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate, which was improperly stored in a port warehouse on August 4, 2020, killing at least 215 people, injuring thousands and destroying nearby areas. It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history and has devastated the country with political divisions and unprecedented economic and financial meltdown.

Judge Bitter, the second judge to lead the complex investigation, has come up against fierce opposition from Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group and its allies, who accuse him of ousting politicians for questioning, most of them allied with Hezbollah.

No Hezbollah official has been charged so far in the 14-month-old investigation.

On Thursday, the firing continued even after the deployment of Army personnel in the area and the sound of firing was heard on their heads. Residents and civilians in the area were retreating to escape the gunfight, some shouting: “Some martyrs on the ground!” People pulled a man, who had apparently been shot down, away from the line of fire. Others dragged another body.

In some videos circulating online, some men were seen chatting “Shia Shia” on the streets as residents ran from gunfire.

Hanin Chemali, a resident of Farn al-Chebak and mother of a 6-month-old baby girl, said she walked down the corridor before running for shelter because the gunshots from her 10th-floor apartment were terrifying.

“I did it for my baby,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going on. I can only hear gunshots.”

Supporters of a Shia group affiliated with Hezbollah help an injured comrade during an armed clash during a protest in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyah in Lebanon, Thursday, October 14, 2021.  It was not immediately clear what caused the gunfire, but tensions were high between Muslim Shia and Christian regions along the front lines of a former civil war.  (AP Photo / Hassan Ammar)

He said he didn’t have electricity on TV to see what was going on. So he knew nothing about the ground situation and opted for security. After spending some time in the shelter, she moved to the first floor with her neighbors to stay away from the fire.

“I know there was so much mobilization from the night before, everyone was predicting that a war would break out,” said Chemali, who heads a local NGO providing social services. Civil war erupts “is the last card they have to use. They have thrown us into bankruptcy, catastrophe and now they are scaring us with the ghosts of civil war.”

An armed conflict could derail the country’s months-old government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati before Lebanon’s handling of the unprecedented economic crisis begins.

The cabinet meeting on Wednesday was canceled after Hezbollah demanded immediate government action against the judge. A Hezbollah minister said he and other cabinet members would walk out if Beitar was not removed.