Cyprus Mail
Middle East

More than 330 people wounded in Beirut protest clashes -rescuers

Riot police restrain a protestor

Lebanese first responders treated more than 330 people for injuries during several hours of clashes between security forces and protesters that rocked central Beirut on Saturday night.

It was the highest toll on the most violent night since largely peaceful protests erupted across Lebanon in October. As the country sinks deeper into an economic crisis, anger has boiled over at a ruling elite who have dominated power since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The Lebanese Red Cross said it had treated 220 people who were wounded on both sides on Saturday night, taking 80 of them to hospital. The Civil Defence said it had treated 114 others.

The Internal Security Forces said 142 police were injured.

Smoke enveloped a commercial district of the capital as police fired volleys of tear gas and unleashed water cannons. They chased after hundreds of men and women near Lebanon’s parliament late into the night.

Protesters yelling “revolution” hurled stones, steel barriers and flower pots. They chanted against Lebanon’s speaker and interior minister, trying to storm a heavily barricaded part of central Beirut that includes parliament.

Young men, with their faces covered, ripped branches off trees and signposts off the ground, charging at riot police.

Human Rights Watch said riot police had fired tear gas canisters at the heads of some protesters and rubber bullets at their eyes.

Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as prime minister in October, said there was a way “to calm the popular storm”.

“Stop wasting time, form a government, open the door to political and economic solutions,” he tweeted.

In months of protests that have gripped the country and pushed Hariri to quit, politicians wrangling over cabinet seats have failed to agree a new government or a rescue plan.

Meanwhile, the crisis is biting: the Lebanese pound has lost nearly half its value, dollar shortages have driven up prices and confidence in the banking system has collapsed.



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