Heavy gunfire echoed through the streets of Beirut on Thursday morning.
The Lebanese army tried to calm the streets in response to reports of gunmen hiding behind roofs and fighting gunfire. It was not immediately clear what caused the clash.
According to a live video of the scene aired by Al Jazeera, the violence focused on two neighborhoods with long-standing tensions – one for the Shia Muslim sect and the other for the Christian sect.
The day began with Shia militants and supporters of the political group Hezbollah and its allies dressed in black at the Beirut Justice Palace. They called for the removal of Judge Tarek Pitara from the trial in connection with the massive 2020 eruption in the port of Beirut.
Lebanon, a small Mediterranean country still plagued by the 15-year civil war that ended in 1990, has been in the grip of a World Bank-defined financial collapse since the mid-1800s.
With prices for almost everything rising, it closes like a tragedy for families whose value for money has fallen.
Since the fall of 2019, the Lebanese pound has lost 90 percent of its value, and by 2020 annual inflation was 84.9 percent. As of June, government figures show that prices of consumer goods have nearly quadrupled in the previous two years.
The biggest explosion in the port of Beirut a year ago killed more than 200 people and devastated much of the capital, adding to the frustration.
The bombing exacerbated the country’s economic crisis, which has been around for a long time, and there is little relief in sight.
Years of corruption and bad policies have plunged the state into debt and the central bank has been unable to support the currency for decades as foreign cash flow to the country has plummeted. Now, it has fallen down from the economy, leaving food, fuel and medicine shortages.
All but the wealthy Lebanese people cut meat from their diet and waited in long queues to refuel their cars, sweating on summer nights due to prolonged power cuts.