Beirut: Lebanese protesters set fire to roadways and clashed with security forces in a second night of unrest on Friday, according to witnesses and Lebanese media.
Protests erupted on Thursday in several Lebanese cities after a crash in the pound currency, which has lost about 70 per cent of its value since October, when Lebanon was plunged into a financial crisis that has brought mounting hardship. The pound appeared to halt its slide on Friday after a government announcement that the central bank would inject dollars into the market on Monday.
Protesters, however, returned later on Friday for a second night, throwing fireworks and stones at security forces in central Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli, prompting them to spray tear gas and rubber bullets to push them back. Eleven people were injured in the protests, it was reported. Two protesters were injured in Beirut’s Downtown and transported by the Lebanese Red Cross to the hospital while nine others were injured in protests in Tripoli, north of Lebanon and sent to a local hospital, Xinhua News Agency said. Riot police used tear bombs in an attempt to disperse protesters and stop them from destroying properties in the area. Demonstrations have also resumed in other regions of the country where protesters cut off roads and burnt tires.
The unrest comes as Beirut holds talks with the International Monetary Fund for a reform programme it hopes will secure billions of dollars in financing and put its economy back on track. The crisis, rooted in decades of corruption and waste, has brought soaring food prices, unemployment and capital controls that have severed Lebanese from their hard currency savings.