Dangerous escalation in a country that has been teetering on the edge of collapse for the past year.

Gunmen opened fire on a Hezbollah-organized demonstration Thursday in the Lebanese capital, killing at least six people and setting off hours of fighting that threaten to plunge the fragile nation back into factional violence.

The brazen assault on Lebanon’s most powerful party represented a dangerous escalation in a country that has been teetering on the edge of collapse for the past year.

Hezbollah, which held the demonstration to call for the removal of the judge investigating a blast that tore through Beirut last year, accused the rival Lebanese Forces, a right-wing Christian movement, of staging the attack, setting up a showdown between the two heavily armed groups.

Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal movement, both predominantly Shiite Muslim, said their supporters “faced an armed aggression by groups from the Lebanese Forces party, which had spread out in nearby neighborhoods and on building rooftops, and started its direct sniping operations to purposefully kill.”

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