At least six people were killed and several were wounded in Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Thursday, after a gunfight broke out during a protest organised by Iran-backed Hezbollah group, AP reported. It was not clear who opened the fire.

The Hezbollah group and its Shiite allies were protesting against a judge leading an investigation into a blast in Beirut’s port last year. They have accused the judge, Tarek Bitar, of politicising the investigation by questioning certain politicians allied with the Hezbollah group.

About 190 people were killed and more than 6,000 were injured in a blast in Beirut on August 4, 2020. Lebanon’s Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi had said that the blast had likely been caused due to explosion from the chemical ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the Beirut port.

Tensions after the blast have added to Lebanon’s many troubles, including a currency collapse, hyperinflation, increasing poverty and an energy crisis leading to extended electricity blackouts, according to AP.

On Thursday, the protests broke out in the city’s Tayouneh neighbourhood against investigation into the blast, CNN reported. Masked gunmen allegedly fired bullets and rockets indiscriminately.

Four projectiles landed near a private French school, causing panic, AP reported.

The Hezbollah group accused the right-wing Christian party, The Lebanese Forces, of resorting to sniper attacks, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, The Lebanese Forces denied the allegations and blamed the Hezbollah’s “widespread weapons” for the gunbattle in the city.

The Lebanese Army deployed soldiers to patrol the area. They raided a number of places in search of the shooters, and arrested nine people from both sides, including a Syrian.

Lebanon Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for calm, and said that the Army would open fire against any armed person on the road, Reuters reported.

United States’ Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland who was in Beirut on Thursday called for an impartial investigation into the blast at the port last year, AP reported.

“The Lebanese people deserve no less, and the victims and the families of those lost in the port blast deserve no less,” she said. “Today’s unacceptable violence makes clear what the stakes are.”

She added that the United Nations has requested all parties in Beirut to stop the violence and “refrain from any provocative actions or inflammatory rhetoric”.