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Six killed in shooting at Hezbollah protest over Beirut explosion probe

Hezbollah blamed the Christian political party the Lebanese Forces for the attack.
ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images

Several people were killed in Beirut Thursday in a shooting at a protest.

A total of six people have been confirmed dead so far in addition to 32 wounded in relation to the shooting in south Beirut’s Tayouneh neighborhood, the Ministry of Public Health announced.

The shooting occurred at a protest organized by the Shiite Islamist groups Hezbollah and Amal. Their supporters were demonstrating over the government probe into the 2020 Beirut port explosion and calling for the “non-politicization” of the investigation, the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV reported.

The probe is determining culpability for the deadly explosion, which killed more than 200 people and devastated the country. The blast occurred after 2,750 tons of the flammable fertilizer ammonium nitrate caught fire in a warehouse.

On Tuesday, Judge Tarek Bitar issued an arrest warrant for former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, a Hezbollah ally, angering the paramilitary group’s supporters. Hezbollah is also calling for Bitar to be replaced.

Following the attack, Hezbollah and Amal issued a statement blaming the Lebanese Forces for the bloodshed, alleging that their snipers deliberately opened fire on the demonstrators, according to Al-Manar. The Lebanese Forces is a Christian political party that fought against Hezbollah during the Lebanese civil war, which ended in 1990. Its leader, Samir Geagea, condemned the shooting in a tweet.

The Lebanese military blocked off access to the shooting site and vowed to open fire on any armed individuals in a series of tweets.

The shooting touched on the sensitive issue of the Lebanese civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990. Today's attack took place near the site of the 1975 bus massacre, where Kataeb party fighters gunned down Palestinians on a bus that was passing through the heavily Christian Ain el Remmaneh neighborhood. Many Lebanese consider this to be the starting point of the war. 

The Lebanese army said later Thursday that it had arrested nine individuals "from both sides" in relation to the attack, the official National News Agency reported. Further details were not immediately available. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.