At least six dead in violent clashes in Beirut

At least six dead in violent clashes in Beirut
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At least six are dead and a dozen others are wounded after violent clashes broke out in Beirut on Thursday.

Six Shiite Muslims were fatally shot as protesters were moving to attend a demonstration called by Hezbollah. The protesters were gathering to call for the removal of a judge involved in the probe of a massive explosion that throttled Beirut last August. 

Hezbollah and an ally group, Shiite Amal Movement, alleged that Lebanese Forces (LF), a Christian party, was responsible for the deaths. 

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The shooting began in the Christian neighborhood of Ain el-Remmaneh.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said snipers opened fire, aiming for people’s heads before gunfire from both sides began.

The violence marks the worst outburst in the city since 2008.  

Children from a nearby school had to take cover as four projectiles hit a French private school, a security official said, The Associated Press reported

Hezbollah, backed by Iran, called for a protest in front of the Justice Palace, a building located at the former divide between the Shiite Muslim and Christian areas.

Hezbollah wants Judge Tarek Bitar off the case of last year's explosion, saying that he is biased against the group's officials because he's called several to testify during the investigation. 

The August explosion at the port warehouse killed more than 200 people and injured thousands. 

After the clash, Prime Minister Najib Mikati asked citizens to remain calm and “not to be dragged into civil strife.”