Beirut, Lebanon – At least a dozen Lebanese banks across the country have been torched and vandalised during the second consecutive night of angry protests fuelled by frustration over the national currency’s unfettered depreciation.
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets and dozens were arrested by security forces.
The largest and most violent protests took place in the northern city of Tripoli – Lebanon’s second-largest, and poorest, city, after protester Fouaz al-Semaan died on Tuesday from wounds sustained while protesting the night before.
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The 26-year-old man’s sister said the Lebanese army shot him. The military expressed its “regret” over the killing without directly claiming responsibility and said it has launched an investigation.
Protesters in Tripoli began setting banks on fire on Tuesday afternoon after the al-Semaan was buried, and clashes continued into the early morning on Wednesday as they were chased through the streets by soldiers.
In southern Sidon, a branch of the central bank was pelted with at least half a dozen petrol bombs, while banks were also set on fire in Beirut and the southern city of Nabatieh.
Protesters are furious over the rapid slide of the Lebanese pound, which has plummeted in value by more than 50 percent in about six months.
Massive anti-government protests that began in October and paused during a nationwide coronavirus lockdown that began in March are now returning angrier and more desperate.
While Lebanese flags used to be ubiquitous in mixed crowds of families with children, increasingly it is young men and women who are taking to the streets, rocks and Molotov cocktails in hand.
Al Jazeera News