Dozens of people were injured in Lebanon’s capital as security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon to disperse anti-government protesters from the city centre. Sunday morning’s violence around the epicentre of the protest site in Beirut was some of the worst since the demonstrations began two months ago. Clashes brought the central area to a standstill for more than eight hours as security forces fired a stream of tear gas canisters at hundreds of protesters, who set fires in rubbish bins on the main streets, in part to mitigate the effects of the gas.
The Red Cross and the Lebanese Civil Defence said at least 46 people were injured and transported to hospitals. More protests are expected later on Sunday.
The protesters chanted slogans against security forces and government officials and pelted police with stones in scenes not seen in the capital since the demonstrations began on October 17.
At one point, the scuffles reached the headquarters of one of the main Lebanese political parties, the Kataeb, where many protesters were taking cover.
Samy Gemayel, the head of the Kataeb, appeared on local TV stations as he tried to separate the protesters from advancing security forces.
Lebanon is facing one of its worst economic crises in decades, and the protesters accuse the ruling political class in place for 30 years of mismanagement and corruption.
The violence comes just two days before the president holds talks with different parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister.
The government headed by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned on October 29, two weeks after the nationwide protests began.
Political groups have been unable to agree on a new candidate while protesters have called for a government unaffiliated with established political parties. Local TV station LBC showed dozens chanting against Hariri, who has emerged as the favourite candidate despite all the political bickering.
The protesters also chanted: “The people want to bring down the regime.” They accused government forces of excessive force.