Sat, 19 Sep 2020

Lebanese Security Forces Clash with Protesters in Beirut

Voice of America
09 Aug 2020, 04:05 GMT+10

Lebanese security forces fired tear gas Saturday at thousands of demonstrators who gathered in Beirut's main square to protest the government's management of the recent explosion that devastated large parts of the city.

At the beginning of a planned protest, a small group of men started throwing stones at security forces as they tried to jump over barriers blocking entry to the parliament building. Police responded by firing tear gas at the protesters.

The demonstrators also stormed the foreign ministry building while others in Martyrs Square set up symbolic nooses for politicians and chanted "the people want the fall of the regime."

The protesters later set fire to a truck that was reinforcing barriers on a street leading to the parliament building.

The Lebanese Red Cross said more than a dozen protesters were hospitalized and scores of others received medical treatment on the scene.

The protest, the first significant demonstration since the explosion, occurred amid mounting anger at Lebanon's political leadership.

The county's leaders have been accused of widespread corruption and incompetence that contributed to Tuesday's devastating explosion, which killed at least 158 people and injured about 6,000 others.

US Delivering Critical Emergency Aid to Lebanon UN, French, Russian rescue workers searched the port area of Beirut for survivors from the blast, French and Russian rescue teams with dogs also searched the area on Friday.

The United States is delivering emergency aid to Lebanon, starting with food, water, and medical supplies, under the direction of President Donald J. Trump following Tuesday's blast in Beirut, national security adviser Robert C. O'Brien said Friday.

In addition, the U.S. will continue to work with authorities in Lebanon to identify further health and humanitarian needs and will provide further assistance. The U.S. Agency for International Development is deploying a disaster assistance response team to help coordination and delivery of assistance, the statement said.

The Trump administration has initially pledged more than $17 million in disaster aid for the country, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, said, and "will continue to help the Lebanese people as they recover from this tragedy."

I addition to providing aid, Pompeo said, the U.S. is joining other nations in the call for "a thorough and transparent investigation" into the cause of the explosion.

In Lebanon, Shock Turns to Fury Massive blast at Beirut's port Tuesday likely to have as enduring impact on impoverished Mediterranean country as 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, diplomats say

United Nations rescue workers searched the wreckage for survivors Friday. French and Russian rescue teams with dogs also searched the area Friday.

Lebanese authorities believe that 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrite stored in warehouses for the last six years led to the explosion of this week.

Officials say they expect the death toll to go up as they pick through the wreckage. Initial damage estimates are as high as $15 billion.

Health officials also fear the disaster will aggravate the coronavirus outbreak as victims pack hospitals and the homeless seek shelter.

Human Rights Watch was the first to call for an independent investigation of the explosion. The group said international experts should be allowed into Lebanon to "determine the causes and responsibility for the explosion and recommend measures to ensure it cannot happen again."

Russia flew in a mobile military hospital along with 50 medical workers. Qatar is also sending a field hospital, while Iraq is supplying a crew of medical workers and truckloads of supplies.

Tunisia offered to bring patients there for treatment and Germany has dispatched a team of rescue experts and search dogs.

Cash pledges have come in from Australia, Britain, Hungary, and other countries.

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