Beirut, Lebanon – One man died on Tuesday after violent clashes in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli that left dozens injured after the Lebanese army used live fire, rubber-coated rounds, and tear gas to clear angry protesters.
Thousands of protesters across Lebanon blocked roads, attacked banks, and marched through streets throughout Monday in response to the local currency’s rapid devaluation, which has led millions to lose more than half the value of their salaries and savings.
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A 26-year-old man’s sister, Fatima Fouad, said in a Facebook post that her brother, Fouaz Fouad al-Seman, died as a result of live gunfire by Lebanese soldiers.
An army source confirmed to Al Jazeera that troops used live fire, but said they shot in the air, not at protesters. The source also confirmed a man died, but said it was unclear how, adding rubber-coated bullets and tear gas were used on demonstrators.
Lebanon is suffering its worst-ever financial crisis that has led to a dollar shortage, which in turn has seen the Lebanese pound tumble by more than 50 percent in the last six months.
Unprecedented anti-establishment protests that began last October had mostly disappeared as the country went into lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic, but dire living conditions brought people back to the streets in at least two-dozen locations since Sunday.
Soldiers attempt to open the northern highway during protests against the collapsing Lebanese pound [Nabil Mounzer/EPA]
Northern Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest and poorest city, saw the largest protests on Monday with hundreds of demonstrators taking to the streets. The situation quickly turned into riots as banks were vandalised and set alight.
Lebanon’s army said 54 soldiers were among the wounded during attempts to open roads and quell riots across the country. Forty troops were injured in incidents in Tripoli.
“The army leadership, while reaffirming its respect for the right of citizens to express their opinions, warns of some attempts to exploit demonstrations to carry out actions that affect security and stability,” a statement said, adding the army “will never tolerate any violation of security”.
The Lebanese army said two soldiers were injured when a grenade was thrown at an army patrol, while an army vehicle was torched using Molotov cocktails in the middle of Tripoli’s Al-Nour square, the heart of anti-establishment protests that broke out in October of last year.
Molotov cocktails have been thrown at at least five banks since the weekend, including in the capital Beirut.
Banks have for six months been limiting withdrawals of the local currency and have entirely phased out withdrawals in foreign currencies that were previously standard.
People inspect a bank set ablaze overnight by protesters [Ibrahim Chalhoub/AFP]
‘We’re coming for you’
Video from Monday night showed protesters raining down a hail of rocks on soldiers in Tripoli, while the sound of heavy gunfire can be heard. Protesters also took to the streets in southern Sidon, chanting “Molotov, Molotov, instead of a candle, Molotov,” outside a local branch of the Central Bank.
Lebanon’s protests began as a largely peaceful uprising last year, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets to demand political change and an end to endemic corruption that sapped the state’s resources. But over the last few months, they have become more desperate as people struggle to make ends meet and secure basic needs, including food.
Human Rights Watch has warned millions could go hungry unless the government puts forward a robust social-safety net. But when the cabinet sought to get approval for a large spending bill at a parliament session earlier this month, quorum was lost and the decision postponed.
“This is a letter to each corrupt politician,” a protester in Tripoli said to his camera Monday night. “When we the Lebanese people get hungry, we’re going to remove you one by one… We’re coming for you one by one.”
Dozens killed in fighting in Afghanistan as peace talks continue |NationalTribune.com
Fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban left dozens dead in a restive eastern province as negotiators from both sides pushed ahead with peace talks in Qatar. Overnight clashes erupted in three districts of Nangarhar province when Taliban fighters attacked several checkpoints of Afghan forces and pro-government fighters, Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the Nangarhar governor…
Fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban left dozens dead in a restive eastern province as negotiators from both sides pushed ahead with peace talks in Qatar.
Overnight clashes erupted in three districts of Nangarhar province when Taliban fighters attacked several checkpoints of Afghan forces and pro-government fighters, Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the Nangarhar governor told the AFP news agency on Thursday.
He said at least 11 Afghan security personnel were killed in fighting in Hesarak, while eight pro-government fighters were killed in Khogyani district.
The official added that about 30 Taliban fighters died in the clashes.
The Taliban has not commented on the fighting so far.
“There have been no attacks from our side … The enemies continue to attack and spill the blood of Afghans,” Afghanistan’s acting Minister of Defense Asadullah Khalid said.
The latest fighting comes as the Afghan government and the Taliban are engaged in talks in Doha aimed at ending the long-running conflict.
Representatives from the Afghan government and the Taliban started face-to-face talks on Monday after months of delay over a contentious prisoners swap agreement between the two sides.
The negotiations are a result of a deal between the Taliban and the United States signed in February, which also paved the way for the withdrawal of all foreign forces by May 2021.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said although the talks raise hopes of the war ending in the country, many challenges remain.
“This is a new phase in diplomacy for peace in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said last week.
“These negotiations are an important achievement, but there are … significant challenges on the way to reaching an agreement.”
Al Jazeera and news agencies
Dozens feared trapped in building collapse in India’s Maharashtra |NationalTribune.com
One person has died and at least 100 feared trapped in the debris of a five-storey building that collapsed in an industrial town in western India’s Maharashtra state, officials said. Not all the roughly 200 residents of the building in Raigad district’s Mahad town, about 165km (100 miles) south of India’s financial capital Mumbai, were…
One person has died and at least 100 feared trapped in the debris of a five-storey building that collapsed in an industrial town in western India’s Maharashtra state, officials said.
Not all the roughly 200 residents of the building in Raigad district’s Mahad town, about 165km (100 miles) south of India’s financial capital Mumbai, were at home when it crumbled in the evening, local legislator Bharatshet Maruti Gogawale told the Reuters news agency on Monday.
India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) spokesman Sachidanand Gawde told reporters that emergency workers had retrieved the body of one victim, who has not yet been identified.
“I believe about 100 to 125 people must have been inside at the time of its collapse,” Gogawale, who was present at the accident site, told Reuters.
The building was comprised of 47 flats, police officials in Mahad said in a statement.
Local residents and police combed through tin sheets, metal rods and other wreckage in a desperate search for survivors as ambulances ferried victims to nearby hospitals.
Authorities said more than two dozen people were pulled out by rescue teams and taken to hospital amid heavy monsoon rains.
NDRF rescue teams and canine squads were deployed to the scene of the accident.
An unnamed official with the Maharashtra state Disaster Management Unit later told the Press Trust of India that at least 51 people were missing.
A man removes the debris after a five-storey building collapsed in Raigad in the western state of Maharashtra [Reuters]
Former Mahad legislator Manik Motiram Jagtap told the local TV9 Marathi channel that the structure was 10 years old and built on “weak” foundations.
“It fell like a house of cards,” he said. “It is a scary situation.”
The office of Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra state, said on Twitter that he had been in touch with local representatives in the area.
“He has assured them that all possible support will be extended for speedy rescue and relief works,” the tweet said.
The cause of the accident was not clear. But building collapses are common in India, usually due to shoddy construction, substandard materials and disregard of regulations.
More than 1,200 people were killed in 1,161 building collapses across India in 2017, according to latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
Many of these accidents occur between June and September during the monsoon season, which plays a vital role in boosting agricultural harvests across South Asia.
But the monsoon season also causes widespread death and destruction, unleashing floods, triggering building collapses and inundating low-lying villages.
The death toll from monsoon-related disasters this year has topped 1,200, including more than 800 lives lost in India alone, according to a tally by the AFP news agency.
Dozens killed in separate Burkina Faso attacks |NationalTribune.com
In this file photo from 2015, soldiers guard positions near the Naaba Koom military base in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso [Arnaud Brunet/Reuters] An armed group in Burkina Faso attacked a cattle market and a humanitarian convoy, killing at least 35 people, the government said on Sunday. Twenty-five people were killed and more wounded in the attack…
In this file photo from 2015, soldiers guard positions near the Naaba Koom military base in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso [Arnaud Brunet/Reuters]
An armed group in Burkina Faso attacked a cattle market and a humanitarian convoy, killing at least 35 people, the government said on Sunday.
Twenty-five people were killed and more wounded in the attack on the market in the eastern village of Kompienga, while five civilians and five military police were killed near the northern village of Foube, the government said in a statement.
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Armed groups “targeted a humanitarian convoy returning from Foube after delivering supplies”, it said.
A further 20 people were wounded in the convoy attack, it said.
No group has claimed responsibility.
Saturday’s violence underscores deep instability in parts of Burkina Faso, which has been battling armed groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) since 2017.
Hundreds have been killed in the past year in the Sahel nation, and more than half a million people have fled their homes due to the violence, which has also raised ethnic and religious tensions.
The bloodshed follows the death of at least 15 people on Friday in an attack on a convoy transporting traders in northern Burkina Faso. That attack, in Loroum province, was also blamed on armed groups.
In the past five years, more than 900 people have been killed by armed groups, while some 860,000 people have fled their homes.
The Sahel country is part of a regional effort to battle an armed uprising along with Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad. Their militaries, under-equipped and poorly trained, are supported by 5,000 French troops in the region. Unrest in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger killed approximately 4,000 people last year, according to UN figures.
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