Lebanon army detains nine people following Beirut clashes

The Lebanese army has announced the arrest of nine people in relation to the deadly unrest in Beirut on Thursday. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has vowed people who were responsible for the violence would be held accountable. The chaos was the worst street violence over a decade in which six people were killed and dozens more injured.

The Lebanese army has said it arrested nine people, including a Syrian, after gunfire erupted on Thursday in Beirut, leaving at least six dead and dozens wounded, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.

The army added on Twitter that it remained deployed in the area to ensure violence did not break out again.

Aoun has stated in a brief address to the nation that the clashes were a “painful and unacceptable scene”.

“It took us back to the days that we said we would never forget and never repeat,” he noted in his televised address, referring to the country’s 15-year civil war from 1975 until 1990.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati told Reuters news agency that Thursday’s events were a setback to the government but would be overcome.

“Lebanon is going through a difficult phase not an easy one. We are like a patient in front of the emergency room,” Mikati said in an interview.

“We have a lot of stages after that to complete recovery,” he added.

Mikati announced on Twitter that Friday would be a day of public mourning for those killed in Beirut.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all concerned in Lebanon to immediately halt acts of violence and refrain from provocative actions or inflammatory rhetoric, a UN spokesman stated.

Guterres reiterates the need for an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into the 2020 explosion at the Beirut port, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Joanna Wronecka, has also expressed concern.

“At this juncture, it is critical to show maximum restraint, ensure that calm is restored and that citizens are protected,” Wronecka wrote on Twitter.

The United States has also called for an easing of tensions in Lebanon after deadly violence in Beirut sparked fears of a return to sectarian strife.

“We join Lebanese authorities in their call for calm, their calls for a de-escalation of tensions,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

France has also expressed concern over the deadly unrest that erupted in Lebanon over the investigation into last year’s Beirut port blast and urged all parties to calm the situation.
“France is deeply concerned over the recent hindering of the smooth running of the investigation … and the violence that has occurred in this context. France calls on all parties to bring about a de-escalation,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Clashes had erupted as a rally organised by the Hezbollah and Amal movements to demand the dismissal of the lead investigator into last year’s port explosion turned violent.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Beirut Palace of Justice, calling for the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar, accusing him of political bias.

Soldiers were deployed on the streets to contain the violence as an undeclared truce brought calm to the Lebanese capital, after nearly five hours of heavy gunfire.

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