The demonstrators put up banners that read “capital of the revolution” and “Beirut is a demilitarized city.” They also burned a picture of Lebanese President Michel Aoun.
"We are staying here. We call on the Lebanese people to occupy all the ministries," one demonstrator said on a megaphone.
Watch: Demonstrators burn pictures of #Lebanon's President Michel Aoun inside the Foreign Ministry building during protests over the government's handling of the massive #Beirut explosion that killed over 150 people on August 4.https://t.co/nonU2MoXb0 pic.twitter.com/JsC4FJiCjy— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) August 8, 2020
The group of protesters who stormed the ministry’s building in central Beirut were led by retired Lebanese army officers.
Their takeover of the building, which was aired live on local TV, happened as most of the security forces' attention was focused on a tense demonstration against the ruling elite a few hundred meters down the road.
Thousands of protesters had gathered in the streets of Beirut to voice their anger at the political elite, they hold accountable for turning the capital into a disaster zone.
Police used tear gas against groups of demonstrators hurling rocks and sticks on the fringes of the main gathering.
Lebanon, a country already reeling from an unprecedented economic crisis, and a surge in coronavirus infections, was struck by the massive explosion at the Port of Beirut on Tuesday which killed at least 158 people and injured more than 6,000.
The blast was so intense it smashed masonry, shattered windows, sucked furniture out of apartments onto the streets and left almost 300,000 people in disaster-stricken Beirut without homes fit to live in, according to Lebanese officials.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun had said the explosion was due to a stockpile of 2,750 metric tonnes of the industrial chemical ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and explosives, catching fire after having been stored at the port since 2013 without safety measures.
- With AFP and Reuters