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Beirut reels as six die in worst street violence in over a decade

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At least six people were killed and dozens were wounded in the most protracted and violent street fighting in the city in over a decade, authorities said.

The exchanges of fire along a former front line from the 1975-90 civil war involved pistols, automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, and were reminiscent of that conflict.

Gunfire echoed in the Lebanese capital for several hours and ambulances, sirens wailing, rushed to pick up casualties. Snipers shot from buildings. Bullets penetrated apartment windows in the area. It was not immediately clear what triggered Thursday’s violence. Both sides said their protesters came under fire from snipers on rooftops.

Tensions had been running high after the Iran-backed Hezbollah and its Shiite allies from the Amal Movement demanded the removal of Tarek Bitar, the judge leading the investigation into last year’s massive port explosion.

The two parties called for a protest near the Justice Palace, located along the former front line between Muslim Shiite and Christian areas.

The violence unfolded while US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland was in town, meeting with Lebanese officials. Her schedule was slightly thrown off by the action on the streets.

– HINDUSTAN TIMES

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