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Clashes between police and protesters in Lebanon angered by delays in forming a government wounded more than 160 people on both sides Saturday as anti-establishment demonstrations enter a fourth month.
The sound of ambulance sirens rang out across Beirut as the Red Cross reported 65 wounded had been taken to hospital and 100 more were treated on site.
On Saturday evening, fire tore through protest tents in an iconic square in central Beirut. It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze. According to the spokesman, there were injuries on both sides.
The protest movement rocking Lebanon since October 17 revived this week as a deepening economic crisis increases pressure to form a new government.
No progress appears to have been made towards finalising the cabinet, which protesters demand be comprised of independent experts and exclude all established political parties.
UPDATE: 18 teams from the Lebanese Red Cross are responding to the protests in downtown Beirut. Over 65 people, until now, have been transported to nearby hospitals and over 100 people have been treated at the scene. The Lebanese Red Cross is now at its highest alert level. pic.twitter.com/KZ8rlOzukn
— Lebanese Red Cross (@RedCrossLebanon) January 18, 2020
We wont pay the price
Earlier, marches converged on the city centre from across Beirut, with demonstrators chanting "We won't pay the price".
But near parliament, dozens of protesters threw rocks and large plant pots at police guarding the institution. Others charged police blockades with traffic signs and metal barriers.
Security forces behind the barricades responded with water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Lebanon's Interior Minister Raya el-Hassan said it was unacceptable for protesters to attack security forces. "I always asserted the right to protest, but for the protests to turn into a blatant assault on the security forces, on public and private property, is condemned and not acceptable at all," she said in a tweet.
اكتر من مرة تعهدت انو احمي التظاهرات السلمية، وكنت دايمن اكد ع أحقية التظاهر. بس انو تتحول ه التظاهرات لاعتداء سافر على عناصر #قوى_الامن والممتلكات العامة والخاصة، فهو امر مدان وغير مقبول ابدا. @LebISF
— Raya Haffar El Hassan (@rayaelhassan) January 18, 2020
The Internal Security Forces also took to the social media: "A direct and violent confrontation is taking place with anti-riot police at one of the entrances to parliament", they tweeted. "We ask peaceful protesters to keep away from the site of the rioting for their safety."
They published photos of several wounded policemen and a video showing pillars stripped of their tiles, reportedly to be thrown at security forces.
An AFP photographer saw young men uproot parking metres. He also saw around 10 people faint from tear gas inhalation.
'Popular anger is the solution'
A 23-year-old woman named Maya said she was protesting because politicians seemed to be ignoring demands for an overhaul of the old political class.
"I'm here because after more than 90 days in the streets, they're still squabbling over their shares in government… It's as if they didn&Read More – Source