Protests continue day after after hundreds injured in Beirut


Police in Lebanon tackled protesters with water cannons and tear gas, while demonstrators hurled stones and debris back at law enforcement, as unrest on the streets of Beirut escalated into violence on Sunday.

Demonstrations broke out in Beirut and other Lebanese cities in October amid rising discontent with the country's failing economy, state corruption and the political leadership, prompting Saad al-Hariri to resign as prime minister.

"It's clear that the more they [security forces] step up their violence, the more people's strength and determination grow". The protesters, who came from the country's north, east and the capital itself, clubbed security forces with tree branches and metal bars and fired flares and fireworks, while lobbing stones and other projectiles at them.

Many protesters took out their ire against the banks that have restricted access to savings accounts and money transfers overseas by smashing the facade of the banking association.

"A direct and violent confrontation is taking place with anti-riot police at one of the entrances to parliament", the Internal Security Forces said on Twitter.

The security forces responded with water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Government forces blocked access to some buildings in central Beirut with razor wire, closing off access to areas that included a popular tourist site.

On Jan. 19, local television aired the testimonies of relatives of two young men they said were hit in the eyes by rubber bullets.

It accused the riot police on January 18 of "launching tear gas canisters at protesters' heads, firing rubber bullets in their eyes and attacking people at hospitals and a mosque".

The protest movement rocking Lebanon since October 17 has revived this week, over delays in forming a new cabinet to address the country's growing economic crisis.

The demonstrators demand dissolution of parliament and early elections, formation of a new independent government and implementation of fair economic reforms.

A shortage of the USA dollars that grease the Lebanese economy has led banks to impose capital controls on both American and local currency, preventing people from withdrawing more than $300 (£230) a week and focusing popular rage on the banking system. Reporters on the scene said most of the injured were from rubber bullets.

"Stop wasting time, form a government, open the door to political and economic solutions", he tweeted on Sunday.

Most were subjected to "excessive violence", while some were wounded "especially to the head and face, and genitals", the Committee of Lawyers for the Defence of Protesters said on Facebook.

Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab had been expected to announce an 18-member Cabinet on Friday, but last minute disputes among political factions scuttled his latest attempt.