France calls for Lebanon 'de-escalation' after Beirut deaths

France calls for Lebanon 'de-escalation' after deadly violence in Beirut
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Paris also expressed that it 'is deeply concerned' given 'the recent hindering of the smooth running of the investigation' into the Beirut port explosion.
The violence at a Beirut protest has left several people dead [IBRAHIM AMRO/AFP/Getty]

France on Thursday expressed concern over the deadly unrest that erupted in Lebanon over the investigation into last year's Beirut port explosion and urged all parties to calm the situation.

"France is deeply concerned over the recent hindering of the smooth running of the investigation... and the violence that has occurred in this context. France calls on all parties to bring about a de-escalation," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

According to the authorities, at least five people were killed on Thursday, according to AP. All of them by gunfire, per AFP.

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The shots erupted when a demonstration organised by Shia parties against the lead investigator into the blast turned violent.

Judge Tarek Bitar has in recent days been in the sights of the Shia Hezbollah and Amal parties, particularly for insisting on subpoenaing top officials in his probe.

The French statement said that the "Lebanese judiciary must be able to work independently and impartially within the framework of this investigation, without hindrance, and with the full support of the Lebanese authorities."

"The Lebanese people are waiting for full light to be shed on the port explosion. They have a right to the truth."

The explosion on 4 August 2020, killed more than 200 people and destroyed large swathes of the capital.

Paris is Lebanon's former colonial master and frequently comments on and intervenes politically in events in the Middle Eastern country.