Lebanese army drives protesters out of ministry buildings amid Beirut demonstrations

Lebanese army soldiers arrive to downtown Beirut on August 8, 2020, during a demonstration against a political leadership they blame for the deadly Beirut explosion. (AFP)

The Lebanese army drove out a group of protesters who had stormed the foreign ministry building hours earlier during the anti-government demonstrations in the wake of the deadly Beirut explosion, Lebanese broadcaster LBCI reported on Saturday.

“The vicinity of the Ministry of Foreign Affair has now been cleared of protesters, and the army has followed a group that hurled rocks,” LBCI added. However, a few protesters remain inside the ministry’s building.

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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.

A group led by retired Lebanese army officers stormed the foreign ministry building and 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.

Other protesters stormed the buildings of the economy, energy, and environment ministries, as well as the Banking Association building, according to state news agency NNA.

The army was also dispatched to the location of the Ministry of Energy and demanded the protesters clear out, LBCI added.

Retired army officers chant slogans inside the Lebanese foreign ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (AP)

Retired army officers chant slogans inside the Lebanese foreign ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (AP)

The explosion at Beirut port Tuesday that is widely blamed on the incompetence and corruption of the ruling elite killed at least 158 people, wounded 6,000 and made hundreds of thousands homeless.

- With Agencies

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Last Update: Sunday, 09 August 2020 KSA 07:15 - GMT 04:15