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The police in Lebanon fired rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators in Beirut, who are upset that no one has been punished for last year’s huge explosion that killed hundreds and devastated the entire city.
Hundreds of protesters – many wearing respirators and helmets – set fire to barricades in the streets near the Lebanese parliament and clashed with police on Wednesday evening, while green lasers could also be seen cutting through the smoke.
Dozens of people were injured in the riot, and the Lebanese Red Cross stated that 45 people were treated at the scene, while nine more were transported to local hospitals.
The evening’s protest was the latest mass demonstration in Beirut, as tens of thousands of Lebanese have been marching to commemorate the August 4, 2020 blast that wrecked the port and destroyed much of the city.
The explosion killed two hundred eighteen people, making it one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history, and more than 7,500 were injured.
It was later discovered that the explosion began at a warehouse storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive compound widely used in fertilizers and bombs. The cargo was seized from a ship, sitting in the warehouse for six years before the disaster.
Protests broke out in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday night, on the one-year anniversary of the horrific explosion in the city’s port. Some demonstrators were met with tear gas from security forces. pic.twitter.com/mpa0yhFdJh
Demonstrators on Wednesday called Lebanese politicians corrupt, criminals and terrorists, and demanded accountability for the August 4, 2020 explosion and an end to impunity. Many vowed “revenge until the regime falls,” according to local reporters.
Complicating the call for justice is the reality that Lebanon hasn’t had an actual government since the blast, given that Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned after the port explosion, although remaining in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet could be formed. The Lebanese constitution mandates that the PM must be a Sunni Muslim, yet the country’s political parties have been unable to put together a coalition to date.
At the same time, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value, causing mass economic hardship.