Trash crisis turns violent in Lebanon
Clashes between riot police and hundreds of protesters who had closed the highway linking Beirut to southern Lebanon over the country's trash crisis left several wounded on both sides. The highway has since been reopened.
The closure of the vital highway in the coastal town of Jiyeh on Sunday comes amid reports that the government plans to move trash piles on the streets of Beirut to the Kharoub region south of the capital.
The protesters stopped several trucks carrying trash and prevented them from entering the region. The closure led to major traffic jams, and authorities urged people not to use the highway.
An anti-riot police squad tried to open the highway on Monday morning using batons and water cannons against the protesters who retaliated by throwing stones at them. Three protesters and four riot police officers have reportedly been wounded.
The highway was later reopened after local authorities and politicians succumbed to political pressure but they warned that any decision to go on with the plan to dump the capital's trash in the region would mean that the highway would be blocked again.
The main company in charge of collecting trash stopped its work earlier this month amid a dispute over the country's largest trash dump. Mountains of garbage have piled up in Beirut and its suburbs.
The country's notoriously gridlocked government had postponed further discussion of the crisis until Tuesday after Minister of Interior and Municipalities Nouhad Machnouk failed to convince the mayors in the Kharoub region to allow the temporary transfer of trash from the streets of Beirut to their municipalities.