A fire broke out near the parliament in Beirut as protesters and police clashed for the second night. Police deployed tear gas as demonstrators demanding the resignation of the government over the huge port explosion hurled rocks.
After attempting to storm parliament on Saturday night, protesters returned to the streets on Sunday, this time firing projectiles at security officers deployed to protect the government building.
As the sun set, a fire broke out at the barricaded entrance to Parliament Square, prompting police to deploy heavy clouds of tear gas and send firefighters in to extinguish the blaze.
Video footage captured the protesters using slingshots to launch the projectiles and security forces aiming lasers back at them.
As Beirut protesters attempt to bring down the walls guarding a building, security forces aim lasers at them.#Lebanon#BeirutBlast#BeirutExplosionpic.twitter.com/mw7Vcs2cUZ
Protesters eventually managed to pull down a section of security fence, cheering as the barricade came down.
#BREAKINGJust as #Beirut protesters break down the Parliament barricade, police reinforcements arrive to push them back.#beirutprotests#BeirutBlastpic.twitter.com/2iNOFx1TtG
Police, clad in body armor and wielding batons, responded with tear gas. At Saturday’s protests, demonstrators managed to breach Ministry of Foreign affairs and other government buildings. One policeman was killed and hundreds of people were injured.
On the ground in Beirut, RT correspondent Igor Zhdanov reported that security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets in an “indiscriminate” way, even as journalists also gathered at the scene. He described the police operation as “swift” in forcing protesters to fall back and scatter through the streets.
“I’m absolutely certain that there will be many wounded, perhaps even as many as [on Saturday], if not more,” Zhdanov said, adding that medics were on standby to treat people affected by tear gas and rubber bullets.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab has called for early parliamentary elections, but his pledge has not managed to quell the wave of public unrest currently gripping the country. Lebanon’s economic situation was perilous before the explosion, and protests have frequently broken out in Beirut in recent months.
Two government ministers have already resigned followed the massive ammonium nitrate explosion in the city’s port on Tuesday.
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