Anger over Beirut blast grows; policeman killed in clashes with protesters

WION Web Team
Beirut, Lebanon Published: Aug 09, 2020, 05:52 AM(IST)

Protests swell in Beirut Photograph:( WION Web Team )

Story highlights

The protesters said their politicians should resign and be punished for negligence they say led to Tuesday’s blast, the biggest ever to hit Beirut, that killed 158 people and injured more than 6,000.

A policeman was killed during the clashes with protesters, when they stormed Lebanese government ministries in Beirut and trashed the offices of the Association of Lebanese Banks on Saturday. Shots rang out in increasingly angry demonstrations over this week's devastating explosion.

The protesters said their politicians should resign and be punished for negligence they say led to Tuesday’s blast, the biggest ever to hit Beirut, that killed 158 people and injured more than 6,000.

The said policeman at the scene said the officer died when he fell into an elevator shaft in a nearby building after being chased by protesters. The Red Cross said it had treated 117 people for injuries on the scene while another 55 were taken to hospital. Policemen wounded by stones were treated by ambulance workers. A fire broke out in central Martyrs' Square.

Police fired tear gas when some protesters tried to break through the barrier blocking a street leading to parliament, a Reuters journalist said.

Police confirmed shots and rubber bullets had been fired.

TV footage showed protesters also breaking into the energy and economy ministries. They chanted "the people want the fall of the regime", reprising a popular chant from the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. They held posters saying "Leave, you are all killers".

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut said the U.S. government supported the demonstrators` right to peaceful protest and urged all involved to refrain from violence.

The embassy also said in a tweet that the Lebanese people "deserved leaders who listen to them and change course to respond to popular demands for transparency and accountability".

Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the only way out was early parliamentary elections.

Tuesday`s blast was the biggest in Beirut`s history. Twenty-one people were still reported as missing from the explosion, which gutted entire neighbourhoods.

The government has promised to hold those responsible to account.

"Resign or hang," said one banner at the demonstration.

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

French President Emmanuel Macron flew from Paris and went straight to the scene to pay his tribute. He promised aid to rebuild the city would not fall into "corrupt hands". He will host a donor conference for Lebanon via video link on Sunday, his office said. U.S. President Donald Trump said that he will join.
 

Read in App