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Protesters Clash With Police In Beirut As Thousands Protest Over Massive Blast

TOPLINE

In the wake of a massive explosion that killed over 150 people in Beirut, anti-government protestors clashed with security forces on Saturday while the Lebanese government scrambles to find who was at fault for the blast.

KEY FACTS

Lebanese security forces fired tear gas at anti-government protestors armed with rocks as thousands gathered in Martyr’s Square in downtown Beirut to demonstrate against the government they believe is responsible for Tuesday’s devastating blast.

Some protestors carried symbolic nooses saying corrupt officials should be hanged over the blast that destroyed Beirut’s port and left thousands homeless.

An investigative committee formed by the Lebanese government has four days to determine who was responsible for the blast, Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe told French radio.

The chief of the customs department and the port manager are among 16 who have been arrested as part of the investigation into the explosion.

At least154 people were killed and over 5,000 wounded in Tuesday’s blast, according to the Lebanese Health Ministry.

The blast was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that arrived in Beirut’s port seven years ago, with attempts to have it removed stymied by bureaucracy.

Key Background

Lebanon has been in a state of civil unrest since last year when nationwide protests over economic mismanagement, widespread corruption, crumbling infrastructure and the government’s inability to contain wildfires that spread through the Chouf mountains led to the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Big Number

400 feet. That’s the size of the crater left behind by the blast.

Further Reading

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at Beirut protesters (Associated Press)

Beirut braced for protests as Lebanese demand answers and justice (The Guardian)

Behind the Beirut Explosion: Seven Years of Official Neglect (Wall Street Journal)

Source:

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