Several people have been killed and dozens more injured when gunfire broke out during a protest in Beirut by the armed group Hezbollah and its allies against the leading judge investigating the massive explosion in the city’s port last year.
At least six people were killed and 25 others injured in the gunfire, the Lebanese Red Cross told Al Jazeera.
The firefights involving snipers, pistols, automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades were a dangerous escalation of tensions over the domestic probe.
Gunfire reverberated in the capital and ambulances rushed to the scene, sirens blaring. Snipers fired from buildings. Bullets penetrated the windows of apartments in the area. Four projectiles fell near a French private school, Freres or Furn el Chebbak, causing panic, a security official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
The students huddled in the central corridors with the windows open to avoid major effects, in scenes reminiscent of the 1975-90 civil war.
The protest outside the Palace of Justice was called by the powerful Hezbollah group and its allies demanding the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the gunfire, but tensions were high along a former frontline of the civil war between Shia and Christian areas.
In a statement, Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for calm and urged people “not to be dragged into civil war”.