Lebanese police fire tear gas at Beirut protesters

by MCR Correspondent
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Not less than 100 protesters have been wounded during demonstrations in central Beirut.

While disclosing this on Saturday August 8, 2020, the Lebanese Red Cross said 110 people were wounded and 32 people taken to hospital.

Lebanese riot police fired tear gas at protesters who tried to break through a barrier to get to the parliament building.

Thousands gathered in Martyrs’ Square in the city center, some throwing stones.

The protesters chanted “the people want the fall of the regime”, a popular chant during the so-called Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, and “Revolution, Revolution”.

The protesters held posters saying “Leave, you are all killers”.

“Really the army is here? Are you here to shoot us? Join us and we can fight the government together,” a woman yelled.

Tuesday’s blast, the biggest in Beirut’s history, killed 158 people and wounded 6,000, the health ministry said. Twenty-one people were still reported as missing.

The government has promised to hold those responsible to account.

But few Lebanese are convinced. Some set up nooses on wooden frames as a warning to Lebanese leaders.

“Resign or hang,” said a placard.

Riot police fired dozens of tear gas canisters at protesters who set a fire and hurled stones.

Some residents, struggling to clean up shattered homes, complained that the government they see as corrupt – there had been months of protests against its handling of a deep economic crisis before this week’s disaster – had let them down again.

“I wish the United Nations would take over Lebanon,” said university student Celine Dibo as she scrubbed blood off the walls of her shattered apartment building.

Several people said they were not surprised that French President Emmanuel Macron had visited this week while Lebanese leaders had not.

“We are living in ground zero. I hope another country would just take us over,” said psychologist Maryse Hayek, 48, whose parents’ house was destroyed in the explosion.

Kareem, an aid worker, said protesting was the only thing for the people to do.

“We helped people, we cleaned houses, we mourned and we cried a lot, a lot, a lot,” he said. “But today it’s the time to show them again that we’re here. This is why I’m here today.”

Lebanon’s Kataeb Party, a group that opposes the government backed by the Iran-aligned Hezbollah, announced on Saturday the resignation of its three lawmakers from parliament.

“I invite all honourable (lawmakers) to resign so that the people can decide who will govern them, without anybody imposing anything to them,” said party chief Sami Gemayel.

Macron promised angry crowds that aid to rebuild Beirut would not fall into “corrupt hands”. He will host a donor conference for Lebanon via video-link on Sunday.

Macron told US President Donald Trump that US sanctions targeting Hezbollah are playing into the hands of those they are meant to weaken, an Elysee official said. The United States should “reinvest” in Lebanon to help rebuild it instead.

The Lebanese prime minister and presidency have said 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, which is used in making fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years without safety measures at the port warehouse.

President Michel Aoun said on Friday an investigation would examine whether the blast was caused by a bomb or other external interference, negligence or an accident. Twenty people had been detained so far, he added.

Source: MCR and News Agency

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