The Lebanese military will not allow anyone to threaten peace and public safety, the country’s defense minister said on Friday.
Maurice Selim met President Michel Aoun to discuss the security situation a day after deadly clashes in the capital Beirut claimed seven lives and left at least 32 wounded.
The violence started when unidentified shooters positioned on rooftops opened fire at supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement who were protesting near the Palace of Justice against the judge investigating last year’s huge blast at the Beirut port.
Clashes continued for several hours before an uneasy calm was restored in the rattled capital.
Selim and Aoun discussed “the need to expedite the ongoing investigations to identify those responsible, hold the perpetrators and instigators accountable, and arrest them,” read a statement issued by the presidency.
“The military institution is keen on maintaining security, stability, and the safety of citizens and will not allow any abuses that would cause disturbances or threaten public safety,” the statement quoted Selim as saying.
The Lebanese army said on Thursday evening that it had arrested nine people, including a Syrian national, in connection with violence.
Hezbollah and the Amal Movement accused an armed group affiliated with the Lebanese Forces party of instigating the clashes.
The two Shia groups were protesting for the removal of Tarek Bitar, who they accuse of bias, after a court dismissed a complaint and allowed him to continue the probe into the Beirut port blast.
The devastating blast in August 2020 killed more than 200 people, wounded around 6,000, and left some 300,000 homeless, besides causing massive damage and further weakening Lebanon’s already fragile economy.
* Writing by Bassel Barakat in Ankara