Children were evacuated from schools and the military was deployed to the streets of Beirut on Thursday afternoon as violence broke out during a protest rally in the Lebanese capital.
By late Thursday afternoon the death toll climbed to four, including a woman who died from a bullet wound in her house, a military source said.
Lebanese Shi’ite parties Hezbollah and Amal said armed groups had fired at protesters from rooftops in Beirut on Thursday, aiming at their heads in an attack they said aimed to drag the country to strife.
In a statement, the parties called on the army to intervene quickly to detain the perpetrators and called on their supporters to remain calm, Reuters reported.
Bursts of gunfire were heard for several hours, along with several explosions which appeared to be rocket propelled-grenades fired into the air, Reuters witnesses said.
Video footage from Lebanese TV station Al Jadeed showed plumes of smoke rising from the streets, as flames burned in the aftermath of an explosion.
The Lebanese army said in a statement the gunfire had targeted protesters as they passed through a traffic circle located in an area dividing Christian and Shi’ite Muslim neighborhoods.
As Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for calm, a military source told Reuters two people had been killed and seven more wounded.
The shooting began from the Christian neighborhood of Ain el-Remmaneh before spiraling into an exchange of fire, the source added.
Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV said “two martyrs” and a number of wounded had been taken to a hospital in the Shi’ite southern suburbs, indicating that the casualties were Shi’ites.
The Lebanese army deployed heavily in the area and said it would open fire against any armed person on the road.
Political tensions over the probe into the port explosion have been building, with the heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah leading calls for Bitar’s removal, accusing him of bias.
The explosion, in August last year, killed more than 200 people and devastated swathes of Beirut.
Health officials and experts meet in Kabul over spread of lumpy skin disease
A seminar was held in Kabul on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing spread of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in livestock in Afghanistan.
Experts from Kabul University, along with representatives of the Ministries of Public Health, Agriculture and Livestock and municipalities met Tuesday to discuss the dangers of this virus.
Delegates attending the seminar pointed out the need to prevent the spread of the disease in the country.
According to health officials, this virus is transmitted by some species of mosquitoes, ticks and other blood-feeding insects but is not transmitted to humans.
“This virus has spread from eastern and southeastern provinces such as Laghman, Nangarhar and Kunar, but currently, this virus does not have a vaccine, and fortunately, this disease does not transmit to humans,” said Shirshah Sadat, dean of Kabul University’s Faculty of Veterinary Sciences.
Nasir Ahmad, the representative of the Ministry of Public Health also said: “This virus is problematic for food health, especially for people suffering from malnutrition.”
“This virus is transmitted from one animal to another by mosquitoes and flies and the source of its transmission should be eliminated, and quarantine and vaccines are said to be good ways to fight this disease,” said Asadullah Samadi, a university professor.
The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock said that a campaign to curb the spread of this virus will be launched in cooperation with international organizations in all provinces in the near future.
The virus has in recent years been detected in Kunar, Nangarhar, Laghman and southeastern provinces of Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Logar and Ghazni.
The disease was endemic in many African countries for years, but spread to other parts of the world over the years. The disease first appeared in South Asia in July 2019, with Bangladesh reporting an outbreak. A month later, it was identified in India – which has the world’s largest bovine population – and then in China.
The infection is caused by the Capripox virus – which is genetically similar to the viruses that cause goat pox and sheep pox – and has been termed “an emerging threat to livestock worldwide” by health experts.
Two IEA forces and 4 Daesh fighters killed in Kabul clash
Four Daesh militants were killed and a fifth was arrested in an operation in Kabul on Wednesday.
According to Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), forces had conducted a raid on an “important nest of the enemy” in Karte-e-Sakhi area in PD3.
The operation was launched at about 11.30am but a shootout between IEA and Daesh militants broke out, which lasted several hours. The situation was eventually brought under control and a cache of weapons and ammunition was recovered.
Mujahid said in a series of tweets that the Daesh cell had been planning to attack Shiites in the Kart-e-Sakhi area during the upcoming Muharram.
Meanwhile, the ministry of interior said in a statement that two security personnel, including a policewoman, were killed in the standoff and four IEA soldiers were wounded.
Iranian energy ministry delegation to visit Kabul over water rights
Iran is reportedly sending a delegation from the ministry of energy affairs to Afghanistan to discuss their water share rights regarding the Helmand River.
According to Iran’s IRNA news agency, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in a phone conversation that he is dispatching the delegation in the near future in order to resolve issues around water.
IRNA reported that Amirabdollahian raised the issue of recent heavy rainfall in Afghanistan and expressed hope that the “artificially created obstacles” in the way of the flow of water towards Iran will be eliminated and Iran will receive its water share from the Helmand River.
Amirabdollahian also reportedly told Muttaqi that receiving their share of water will be an important index for Kabul in terms of showing how committed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is about meeting “their international commitments”, IRNA reported.
Amirabdollahian said the people of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan and their representatives in Parliament are seriously demanding their share of water and that unless the issue is resolved quickly, “it will affect the other issues in bilateral cooperation negatively”, IRNA reported.
According to IRNA, Muttaqi in turn welcomed the delegation’s upcoming visit and said Afghanistan is committed to giving Iran their share of water from the Helmand River, which flows into the country.
Amirabdollahian said that a joint team of technicians will survey the river’s path and ensure both countries benefit from the water.
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