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• Mass protests erupt in Beirut over deadly explosion

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese riot police fired tear gas at demonstrators trying to break through a barrier to get to the parliament building in Beirut on Saturday and shots were heard in growing protests over this week’s devastating explosion.

Riot police fire tear gas at protesters as anger grows over port explosion

A policeman was killed during the clashes with demonstrators, a police spokesman said. A policeman at the scene said he died when he fell into an elevator shaft in a nearby building after being chased by protesters.

The Red Cross said it had treated 117 people for injuries on the scene while another 55 were taken to hospital. A fire broke out in central Martyrs’ Square.Dozens of protesters broke into the foreign ministry where they burnt a framed portrait of President Michel Aoun, representative for many of a political class that has ruled Lebanon for decades and that they say is to blame for its deep political and economic crises.

“We are staying here. We call on the Lebanese people to occupy all the ministries,” a demonstrator said by megaphone.

About 10,000 people gathered in Martyrs’ Square, some throwing stones. Police fired tear gas when some protesters tried to break through the barrier blocking a street leading to parliament, a Reuters journalist said.

Police confirmed shots and rubber bullets had been fired. It was not immediately clear who fired the shots.

The protesters said their politicians should be hanged and punished over their negligence that they say led to Tuesday’s gigantic explosion that killed 158 people and injured more than 6,000.

The protesters chanted “the people want the fall of the regime”, reprising a popular chant from the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. They held posters saying “Leave, you are all killers”.only way out was early parliamentary elections.

 

NP/Fatimah/Reuters

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