Lebanon: Dozens wounded in Beirut clashes over failed economy, Hezbollah

By MEE and agencies |

First big protests since easing of coronavirus lockdown come as Beirut negotiates IMF package to prop up collapsing economy

Lebanese protester throws back tear gas canister amid clashes with riot police during demonstration in central Beirut on Saturday (AFP)

Protesters poured into the streets of the Lebanese capital on Saturday to decry the collapse of the economy, as clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of the Iran-backed Shia group Hezbollah.

More than 35 percent of Lebanese are unemployed, while poverty has soared to 45 percent of the population, according to official estimates. Lebanon is also one of the world’s most indebted countries and defaulted on its external borrowing for the first time in March, according to AFP.

The first big protests since the government rolled back coronavirus lockdown measures in mid-March come as Beirut negotiates an International Monetary Fund (IMF) package it hopes will secure billions of dollars in financing to prop up its collapsing economy, Reuters said.

Hundreds filled the streets around Martyrs Square in the centre of Beirut, with skirmishes also between protesters and security forces, who fired tear gas. Forty-eight were wounded in the violence and 11 were hospitalised, the Lebanese Red Cross said.

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