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CHRISTIAN fascist militia allegedly shot dead at least six peaceful protesters in Beirut today as they gathered for a demonstration against Tarek Bitar, the lead judge of the port blast investigation.
Members of the notorious Lebanese Forces are believed to have opened fire as people gathered for the rally called by the Shi’ite Amal and Hezbollah movements in the Lebanese capital.
At least six people were killed and many more injured as snipers positioned in nearby buildings shot at protesters.
“The shooting was aimed at their heads,” the organisers said as they called for the Lebanese army to intervene and “stop these criminals,” appealing to supporters to remain calm.
The groups behind today’s attack “aimed to drive the country into a deliberate strife” and were accused by Amal and Hezbollah of using last year’s devastating port explosion “for malicious political gains.”
Beirut resembled a war zone as military vehicles and soldiers flooded the city, warning people to stay inside as they threatened to shoot at any armed individuals on the streets.
One local who wished to remain anonymous told the Morning Star that she was unable to leave her home for work, describing the situation as “very bad.”
“Rockets and bombs are being fired on the streets between Badaro and Tanouyeh [districts of Beirut] near the palace of justice,” she said.
“The judge is intimately linked with the US embassy,” she added.
This has fuelled anger over Washington’s continual meddling in Lebanon’s domestic affairs, she continued.
Today’s demonstration was held in protest at what is seen as the politicisation of last year’s Beirut port explosion in which more than 200 died with thousands injured.
Nobody has been held accountable for the blast with the trial stymied by delays as parliamentarians refuse to give evidence.
Mr Bitar’s predecessor, Fadi Sawan, was forced to step down after he charged former prime minister Hasan Diab and other senior government officials last December.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called for the replacement of Mr Bitar with a “truthful and transparent investigator” earlier this week.
He accused the judge of political bias, focusing on the Shi’te movement and its allies while ignoring others.
On Tuesday Mr Bitar issued an arrest warrant for ex-finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil, a Hezbollah ally, shortly before a complaint was raised demanding his removal from the case.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea denied his group was responsible for the attacks, calling for an independent inquiry.
In August his paramilitary gang launched a brutal attack on members of the Lebanese Communist Party at a commemoration marking the anniversary of the port explosion.
Mr Geagea served 14 years of a life sentence for ordering four political assassinations, including the 1987 killing of Lebanese prime minister Rashid Karami.
He was released in an amnesty in July 2005.
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