One dead, 230 injured as post-blast protests turn violent in Beirut

One dead, 230 injured as post-blast protests turn violent in Beirut
Described by activists as "Saturday of revenge" and "Judgement Day", wide-scale demonstrations in Beirut turned violent leaving one dead and over 200 injured.
2 min read
09 August, 2020
Security forces fired tear gas and shot rubber bullets at protesters [Getty]
A policeman was killed and more than 230 people were injured in protests in central Beirut on Saturday, after public calls demanded justice for more than 150 victims of the Beirut blast.

The streets of Downtown Beirut, which became a common site of large-scale demonstrations, were filled with protestors who blamed the explosion on the ruling government's negligence and corruption. The protests turned violent after demonstrators broke into government buildings and ministries and set fire to some.

Local English-language news outlet The Daily Star cited Security sources confirming the death of the policeman, Toufic Douweihy, occured as a result of falling down a lift shaft inside the Le Gray Hotel building.

A statement released by the Internal Security Forces said the policeman was "attacked by a number of riotous killers".

The Lebanese Red Cross announced in a tweet that 238 protesters and security forces were injured in clashes after protests turned violent.

According to the NGO, 63 of those injured had to be transported to a hospital while the rest were treated on site.

Security forces fired tear gas and shot rubber bullets at protesters, including some rioters who had set fire to buildings in the area.

Rubber bullets hit eyes of protesters who were rushed to hospitals for surgery. 

At least seven people had to undergo eye surgery on Saturday as a result, Mohamad Jawad Khalifeh, doctor and Former Minister of Public Health, said.

Security forces also carried out a violent crackdown on protestors, journalists and rights groups. 

At least 20 people were arrested, according to a committee of lawyers defending protesters' rights pro bono. Local media reports said the detainees were forced to undergo drug tests.

An eyewitness who attended Saturday's protests told The New Arab that small caliber rounds were fired from airrifles at protesters.

"There were plaincloth men shooting directly at us from a short distance," the protester, who requested anonymity said.

Read also: #SayTheirNames: The victims of Beirut blasts

The small bullets, often used to hunt small animals like birds, resulted in several reported injuries. 

Lebanon's Cabinet declared a state of emergency in Beirut on Wednesday following the explosion. The decision put the Lebanese Army in charge of security in the city.

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