1 killed, 220 injured in Lebanon riots over COVID restrictions

Violent confrontations between protesters and security forces in northern Lebanon left a 30-year-old man dead and more than 220 people injured, the state news agency says.

Frustrations boil over amid deteriorating living conditions and strict coronavirus lockdown measures that have exacerbated a severe economic and financial crisis, the worst in the Mediterranean country’s history.

The violence in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city and the most impoverished, mark a serious escalation in protests that began Monday and continued for three straight days into Wednesday night.

Dozens of young men have been taking part in the nightly protests, throwing rocks at security forces and in some cases torching vehicles. On Wednesday, protesters repeatedly tried to break into the municipal building. Some lobbed hand grenades at security forces, who responded with water cannons, volleys of tear gas and finally, live ammunition.

Lebanese mourners attend the funeral of Omar Tayba, who died during clashes between anti-government protestors and security forces the previous night, in the northern port city of Tripoli on January 28, 2021 (Fathi AL-MASRI / AFP)

The National News Agency says 226 people were injured in the confrontations, including 26 police. One 30-year-old man died of his wounds, it says. The Red Cross says it transported 35 injured people to hospitals in the city.

Security forces are bringing reinforcements and putting up barbed wire around the municipal building, known as the Serail. Two torched cars stand nearby. Shops and cafes are open and traffic appears normal on the streets in clear defiance of the government’s lockdown measures.

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