Lebanese protesters clash with security forces outside parliament

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas to disperse dozens of anti-government demonstrators angered by the Beirut blast.

Elad Benari ,

Protest near parliament in Beirut
Protest near parliament in Beirut
Reuters

Lebanese security forces on Thursday night fired tear gas to disperse dozens of anti-government demonstrators angered by the Beirut blast earlier this week.

The scuffles in central Beirut took place in a ravaged street leading to parliament, the wreckage from Tuesday's explosion still littering the entire area, according to AFP.

Protesters had sparked a blaze, vandalized stores and lobbed stones at security forces, the state-run National News Agency reported.

Police responded with tear gas to disperse the small, but clearly furious crowd, wounding some demonstrators, NNA said.

Tuesday's blast killed nearly 150 people, wounded at least 5,000 and destroyed entire districts of the capital.

Lebanese authorities said it was triggered by a fire igniting 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate negligently stored in a warehouse at Beirut's port since 2013.

This raised questions as to how such a huge cargo of the highly explosive substance could have been left unsecured for so long.

The explosion came as Lebanon was already in its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The World Bank said on Wednesday that it stands ready to assess Lebanon’s damage and needs after the Beirut port explosion.

The explosion added to the grievances of the protest movement that emerged in October to demand the removal of a political class deemed inept and corrupt.

Former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned this past October following the wave of protests, which at times turned violent.

The protests in Lebanon were initially started in response to what has become known as the “WhatsApp Tax”, which would have seen a 20-cent daily fee being charged for messaging app users.

Earlier this week, Lebanon's foreign minister Nassif Hitti resigned in protest at the government's failure to tackle the country’s economic crisis, warning that if there is no will to reform "the ship will sink".



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