Beirut police fire tear gas as protesters regroup and two ministers quit


Published by REUTERS.COM

Summary generated on August 9, 2020


    BEIRUT - Lebanese police fired tear gas to try to disperse rock-throwing protesters blocking a road near parliament in Beirut on Sunday in a second day of anti-government demonstrations triggered by last week's devastating explosion.

    Two government ministers resigned amid the political fallout of the blast and months of economic crisis, saying the government had failed to reform.

    Tuesday's explosion of more than 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate killed 158 people and injured more than 6,000, compounding months of political and economic collapse and prompting furious calls for the government to quit.

    "We gave these leaders so many chances to help us and they always failed. We want them all out, especially Hezbollah, because it's a militia and just intimidates people with its weapons," Walid Jamal, an unemployed demonstrator, said, referring to the country's most influential Iran-backed armed grouping that has ministers in the government.

    Lebanon's environment minister resigned on Sunday, saying the government had lost a number of opportunities to reform, a statement said.

    About 10,000 people gathered at Martyrs' Square, which was transformed into a battle zone in the evening between police and protesters who tried to break down a barrier along a road leading to parliament.

    Some demonstrators stormed government ministries and the Association of Lebanese Banks.

    "The police fired at me. But that won't stop us from demonstrating until we change the government from top to bottom," Younis Flayti, 55, a retired army officer, said on Sunday.

    "People should sleep in the streets and demonstrate against the government until it falls," she said.

    The government has said it will hold those responsible to account.