On Friday, funerals were held for the seven people who were killed during violence in the Lebanese capital of Beirut during the week. The conflict emerged over a long-running investigation into last year’s enormous port blast in the city.
Lebanon’s rooted sectarian divides and growing pushback against the port investigation by the two main Shiite Muslim groups, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, are factors behind the recent violence.
On the same day, schools, banks, and government offices across Lebanon shut down for a day of mourning, while funerals were held in several parts of the country.
At a cemetery in a southern suburb of Beirut, Hezbollah members in military uniforms paid their respects, standing before three coffins draped with the group’s yellow flag and covered with white roses.
Senior Hezbollah officials were present. Hundreds of women, dressed in black robes, also attended the funeral.
At a separate funeral for an Amal fighter, also in southern Beirut, gunmen opened fire in the air for several minutes. Thursday’s clashes saw gunmen battling each other for several hours with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades in the streets of Beirut. It was the most violent confrontation in the city in years, echoing the nation’s darkest era of the 1975-90 civil war.
The firefight raised the specter of a return to sectarian violence in a country already struggling through one of the world’s worst economic crises of the past 150 years.
The violence broke out at a protest organized by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, which called for the removal of judge Tarek Bitar investigating last year’s massive explosion at the port of Beirut.