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Middle East

Anti-Hezbollah protester killed outside Iranian embassy in Beirut


A man was killed outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut on Sunday after gunmen from the Iran-backed Shia militia Hezbollah opened fire on anti-Hezbollah protesters.

The Lebanese army deployed tanks and erected roadblocks across the city after the shooting, fearing a flare-up in sectarian tensions. Protesters had gathered to condemn Iran and Hezbollah for backing the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose country’s civil war has spread across the border into Lebanon. Men with handguns, and dressed in black with the yellow armbands of Hezbollah, were seen scuffling with a group who drew up in a bus. When the bus stopped outside the embassy, Hezbollah supporters attacked the vehicle with batons, smashing its windows.

The gunmen then drew their weapons and fired. Several protesters, none of them armed, were injured.

Lebanese security officials named the dead man as Hashem Salman of the Intima party, a Shia political organisation that opposes Hezbollah.

Tension between Sunnis and Shias has risen in Lebanon and across the Middle East, notably in Iraq, since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. Last week Hezbollah fighters played a key role in helping the Syrian regime retake the strategic town of Qusair, near the Lebanese border, further inflaming Sunni anger.