Security forces fire tear gas as protests in Beirut turn ugly

Security forces fire tear gas as protests in Beirut turn ugly

An AFP photographer saw men in plainclothes hitting protesters, while anti-riot police fired rubber bullets at protesters throwing stones. The local TV station filmed soldiers forcing protesters to retreat from central Beirut's squares.

The Lebanese civil defence said they took 36 injured to hospital and treated 54 people at the scene while the Lebanese Red Cross reported it took 15 injured to hospital and treated 37 people on site.

It was the second time this week the groups tried to attack the protest camp.

The army, widely viewed as a nonsectarian institution, reportedly intervened between protesters and supporters of the Shiite groups Hezbollah and Amal. Lebanese security forces fired te. Gen. Imad Osman, turned up at the protest rally Sunday. For Mario the violence of the last few hours "is a message of intimidation launched by law enforcement and infiltrators" to weaken the protest front and say "that it does not exist".

It said it will continue to deploy forces "until calm is fully restored".

Hundreds of protesters returned to the epicentre of the protests after hours of clashes with security forces.

The political situation in Lebanon has been tense ever since mass protests triggered by a deepening economic crisis forced the government to step down in October.

On Sunday, Amnesty International criticised the "excessive use of force" used the night before and noted that the protests were "overwhelmingly peaceful".

State news agency NNA said the tear gas made several people faint.

In that regard, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis, who tweeted about the recent violent events and the need for investigation, followed with two consecutive tweets stating that the postponement was "either a sign that [.] politicians start to understand that they can not neglect the voice of the people, or another attempt to buy time for business as usual".

"Tomorrow is the moment of truth".

The rise in tensions comes as politicians have failed to agree on forming a new government.

Under Lebanon's complex political system, where power is shared among religious groups, the prime minister must always be a Sunni, the president a Maronite Christian and the speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim. "If they don't choose someone acceptable, we will be back to the streets again and again", said Chakib Abillamah, a businessman who was demonstrating Saturday when violence broke out. One raised a poster saying the tear gas won't keep them away. The expatriates, she concludes, "support the protesters unconditionally, whom I thank for taking to the streets for us too". Unknown assailants also set fire to two tents set up by protesters in Martyrs' Square in Beirut, the epicenter for the anti-government rallies. Some hurled the canisters back at riot police standing nearby in body armor.

He has said he would only return as prime minister of a specialized cabinet of ministers, believing it would satisfy protesters and allow the government to address the crisis and withdraw foreign aid.

Political rifts look set to hinder agreement on the next cabinet, which the country badly needs to ward off an even worse crisis.

Its currency has been pegged at 1,507 Lebanese pounds to the dollar since 1997, but in recent weeks it has reached more than 2,000 in the black market.

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