Shots heard as Beirut protesters vent anger at government

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Shots were heard at the scene of demonstrations in central Beirut against Lebanon’s ruling elite on Saturday.

Thousands had taken to the streets in anti-government protest following the explosion that caused widespread destruction in the Lebanese capital earlier this week.

Around 5,000 people gathered in Martyrs’ Square in the city center, some throwing stones. Riot police subsequently fired tear gas at demonstrators trying to break through a barrier to get to the parliament building in the Lebanese capital. 

Demonstrators chanted “the people want the fall of the regime,” and held posters saying “Leave, you are all killers.”

“We want a future with dignity, we don’t want the blood of the victims of the explosion wasted,” Rose Sirour, one of the protesters, told Reuters.

Opposition lawmakers resign in protest

The three legislators belonging to the Christian opposition Kataeb party announced they had resigned from parliament in protest of the “disaster” that hit the country. With fingers pointed at senior government officials for incompetence and corruption that led to the blast, Kataeb president Sami Gemayel called on every “honorable” member of parliament also to resign.

“A new Lebanon must be born out of the old one,” he told parliament.

A senior Kataeb was among the 154 people killed in the explosion at the port of the city, which left over 5,000 injured and much of the city near the harbor reduced to rubble.

Read more: Emmanuel Macron visits Beirut: Can there be a ‘French solution’ for Lebanon?

Senior officials visit

The head of the Arab League joined European Council president Charles Michel in a short visit to the country to discuss donations plans.

Documents uncovered this week allegedly show that officials had been repeatedly warned about the storage of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the port which led to the blast. The Middle Eastern country was already facing financial disaster amid devaluation of the currency and coronavirus pandemic even before the blast.

Damages are estimated to be upwards of $10 billion, with food, medical supplies and housing destroyed.

lc/ed/rc (AP, AFP)



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