In what turned out to be Beirut’s most violent clashes in over a decade, at least six people were killed on Thursday, 14 October, amidst firing between Shiite groups – Hezbollah and Amal Movement – and the Lebanese Armed Forces, Reuters reported.
Additionally, the clashes allegedly involved the Christian Lebanese Forces, a Christian political party whose militia fought in the Lebanese Civil War.
A protest had been organised by Hezbollah, a militant group which is also one of the most powerful political entities in Lebanon.
Protesters were demanding the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar as the adjudicator leading the investigation of the August 2020 port explosion that killed more than 200 people in Beirut.
Bitar been accused by Hezbollah of running a biased and politicised trial against prominent Muslim figures in Lebanon.
The demonstrations on Thursday took a violent turn when protesters were targeted by sniper fire, and they then shot back with AK47s and grenades.
Lebanese troops were deployed but the violence escalated.
Hezbollah claims that their members were fired at by right-wing Christians, reported The Guardian.
Samir Geagea, the leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces party, denied the charges and condemned the violence.
Regardless of who started the firing, Thursday’s violence exemplifies the situation of Lebanese politics and society – sectarian divisions, a weak state, corruption, and militia violence.
In this explainer, we untangle Lebanon’s recent past and elucidate how it is linked to the present.
What are the sectarian divides? What has been the state of Lebanon’s politics after the civil war and why is the economy in shambles? Why has there been so much controversy around the Beirut blast? Read on.