Clashes have erupted between protesters calling for an overhaul of the political system and supporters of the main Shia groups Hezbollah and Amal amid reports of gunfire in some parts of Lebanon late on Monday, according to local media.
For the second consecutive day, security forces intervened in a bid to break up confrontations between the groups’ supporters and demonstrators protesting against Lebanon’s political elite.
The violence is threatening to tip largely peaceful demonstrations directed at the country’s government and its ruling officials in a more bloody direction.
A video posted by Lebanese broadcaster LBCI showed heavy gunfire around Cola bridge in the capital, Beirut. The source of the gunfire was not immediately clear. No injuries were reported.
In the southern town of Tyre, supporters of Hezbollah and Amal tore up protest tents and set them on fire, prompting security forces to intervene and fire into the air, according to Lebanese media.
Lebanon has faced five weeks of anti-government protests, fuelled by anger at corruption among the sectarian politicians who have governed the country for decades. Demonstrators want them all to leave office.
Supporters of Amal and the Iran-backed Hezbollah have occasionally sought to break up the demonstrations and clear roads cut off by protesters. Last month, they destroyed a main protest camp in central Beirut.
The groups were both represented in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned on October 29 after the protests began. They had opposed Hariri’s resignation.
In a statement, Hariri’s Future Movement warned its supporters to refrain from protesting and stay away from large gatherings to “avoid being dragged into any provocation intended to ignite strife.”
Groups of men on motorcycles, some waving Amal and Hezbollah flags, were seen roving streets in Beirut and Tyre, according to witnesses and videos broadcasted on Lebanese media.