Heavy gunfire breaks out at Beirut protests

(CNN)Heavy gunfire has broken out at a demonstration in Beirut calling for the removal of a judge leading a probe into the deadly August 2020 port blast.


Hundreds of supporters of Iran-backed Hezbollah and its main Shia ally, Amal, were marching towards the Lebanese capital's Palace of Justice when shots were fired at the protesters from an unknown location, forcing demonstrators and journalists to take cover, according to local broadcasters.

Local TV also showed a masked protester shooting a weapon from behind a street barrier and black smoke rising from one of the nearby buildings.


Hezbollah has been a staunch opponent of Tariq Bitar, the popular judge who is leading the Beirut blast investigation and has sought the prosecution of high-level officials. This week, the judge issued an arrest warrant against lawmaker Ali Hassan Khalil, a top Amal official and former finance minister.

Since his appointment in February, Bitar, who also heads Beirut's criminal court, has sought top political and security officials for questioning in the Beirut blast probe. He is the second judicial investigator to head the investigation. The first judge tasked with handling the probe was dismissed after two ex-ministers charged in the investigation successfully filed a motion for his removal.

Several legal petitions by officials being prosecuted to dismiss Bitar have been unsuccessful.

This is a breaking news story, more details to follow.

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Publisher: CNN

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