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Lebanese police fire tear gas at protesters in wake of explosion

Lebanese police fire tear gas at protesters in wake of explosion
© UPI Photo

Clashes erupted in Beirut Saturday between police and protesters as frustration boiled over in the aftermath of a massive explosion near the city’s port this week that killed over 100 people and wounded thousands more. 

Lebanese police, who were later joined by the military, fired tear gas at demonstrators who tried to enter the Parliament building in Beirut. Protestors were also seen throwing objects at law enforcement in Lebanon’s capital city.

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The deadly explosion Tuesday, which was felt miles away and caused widespread destruction in Beirut, brought to the fore longstanding frustration from the country’s residents over government inefficiency and corruption. Reports soon emerged that government officials had been warned that chemicals which were being stored in the port and were the cause of the explosion had not been properly monitored. 

Demonstrators filled the streets of Beirut to call for revolution and for the government’s top officials to step down.

“Resign or hang,” read one sign.

“We have no trust in our government,” university student Celine Dibo told Reuters. “I wish the United Nations would take over Lebanon.”

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Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Friday the government would launch an investigation into the source of the explosion and determine if it was due to negligence, an accident or external interference, though no signs have emerged indicating the blast was the result of an attack. He said 20 people have already been detained.

The frustration over government corruption and inefficiency is only underscored as residents look to tackle a massive cleanup operation that Beirut may be unable to handle, with video showing entire sections of the city covered in rubble. 

French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronTrump addresses virtual G-20 summit, heads out before session on pandemic G-20 leaders stress importance of united response to coronavirus pandemic Czech president says Trump should quit after election loss and 'not be embarrassing' MORE traveled to Lebanon this week to promise Beirut residence Paris stood ready to help. The U.S. has also pledged $17 million in relief aid to Lebanon.