One shot dead south of Beirut as protesters block streets

Published: Updated:

A man was shot dead south of Beirut, Lebanon’s state news agency said early Wednesday, after the army announced it had opened fire to disperse protesters blocking roads.

The victim “succumbed to his injuries” in hospital, according to the National News Agency, the second death in nearly a month of unprecedented protests that have erupted across Lebanon.

The army said in a statement that it had arrested a soldier after he opened fire in the coastal town of Khalde, just below the capital, to clear protesters “injuring one person.”

The Progressive Socialist Party, led by influential Druze politician Walid Jumblatt, said in a statement that the man was one its members.

A long-time opponent of President Michel Aoun, Jumblatt appealed to his supporters to stay calm.

“In spite of what happened, we have no other refuge than the state. If we lose hope in the state, we enter chaos,” he said.

Protesters in Lebanon blocked roads with burning tyres in several parts of the country including the capital Beirut following a broadcast interview with President Michel Aoun in which he urged them to go home.

During his interview, Aoun called on protesters to go home, saying their demands had been heard, and warned of a “catastrophe” if they stayed in the streets.

Earlier in the day, banks and schools were shut down across the country as protesters continued to block roads, while dozens of others gathered near the Palace of Justice in central Beirut demanding an independent judiciary.

Several protesters prevented bank employees, as well as judges and lawyers, from entering their places of work nearly a month into protests that erupted due to widespread discontent with politicians seen as inefficient and corrupt.

-with AFP, Reuters