- A number of protesters called the Foreign Ministry building the "Revolutionary Command Center."
- A group of angry protesters has set up gallows in Beirut's central square and hanged replicas of some politicians.
- AFP also said the damage caused by the blast was similar to the damage caused to Beirut by 15 years of civil war.
A new wave of protests has broken out in Lebanon in response to a massive explosion that destroyed part of the port and downtown Beirut on Tuesday evening. On Saturday, a group of angry protesters, apparently led by a number of former army officers, stormed the Lebanese Foreign Ministry building.
According to news sources, a number of protesters called the Foreign Ministry building the “Revolutionary Command Center,” and called on the demonstrators to occupy other Lebanese ministries.
Some reports indicate that protesters attacked other government buildings, such as the Ministry of Economy. A video of an attack on several banks has also been published on the internet.
Demonstrators also marched on the Lebanese parliament, as they did three days ago, and were fired upon by police as they tried to cross the border, news sources said. Reuters reports, citing videos published in the Lebanese media, that rubber bullets were fired at protesters and that a number of them were injured.
The economic turmoil, corruption, sharp rises in prices, and the devaluation of the national currency over the past year have left Lebanon with some of the strongest protests in recent years. As protests continued, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in November last year and was replaced by Hassan Diab, backed by the Islamist extremist party, Hezbollah.
With the inauguration of the new government, the problems and the economic crisis in Lebanon, and, consequently, the protest movements continued. In recent months, the Hezbollah movement, which is funded by Iran, has been increasingly targeted by protesters for its role and influence in the Lebanese political structure.
A number of protesters have repeatedly called for the disarmament of Hezbollah militants, and in a new round of protests, criticism has intensified in response to the recent explosion in the port of Beirut.
Hanging Nasrallah, Other Politicians in Effigy
According to videos published in the media and the internet, in the last two days, a group of angry protesters has set up gallows in Beirut’s central square and hanged replicas of some politicians, including Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.
The deadly explosion took place on Tuesday in warehouse No. 12 in Beirut, where 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate was stored without observing the necessary safety measures. Some reports have blamed Hezbollah’s military equipment depot in the Beirut port area for the explosion of an ammonium nitrate shipment, but Nasrallah has denied this.
The blast was heard in the port of Beirut as far as Cyprus, and the German Geological Survey said it was measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale.
The Destruction of Beirut is Like 15 Years of Civil War
AFP also said the damage caused by the blast was similar to the damage caused to Beirut by 15 years of civil war in the second half of the 20th century. At least 5,000 people were injured in Tuesday’s blast, some of whom were discharged after receiving outpatient treatment.
The Lebanese Ministry of Health put the death toll at 158 on Saturday evening, and as 21 people are still missing after the blast, the possibility of an increase in deaths is not ruled out.
Lebanese protesters who do not trust the efficiency, health, and integrity of politicians and members of the government called for an independent, transparent, and international investigation into the cause of the Beirut blast.
During a visit to Beirut on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron backed the protesters. Michel Aoun opposed the request in front of reporters on Friday, saying that the group tasked with investigating the incident would continue to work and that the results of their investigation would be made public.