Protesters in crisis-hit Lebanon have clashed with security forces in Beirut, a day after demonstrators outraged by restrictions on dollar withdrawals attacked bank branches with metal rods, fire extinguishers and rocks.
Hundreds gathered again outside the central bank on Wednesday evening, moving to a police station where more than 50 people were still detained following clashes between demonstrators and security forces the previous night.
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They chanted slogans and demanded the release of their comrades before security forces fired tear gas to disperse them.
Four months into a mostly peaceful protest movement against Lebanon’s political class, which led to the resignation of the government in late October, demonstrators have turned their anger on to the banks, many of which have imposed informal capital controls to stave off a liquidity crunch.
That has trapped the savings of depositors in Lebanon’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Protester Yumna Mroue, 22, said the central bank’s financial policies had been harming small savers for years.
“We’re in free-fall now. What happened last night comes from people’s real pain and anger,” she told AFP news agency.
“People are demanding a government that will save the economy. Instead, what politicians have been doing is bickering amongst themselves over seats in the next cabinet.”
Anti-government protesters gather outside police headquarters in Beirut as they demand the release of those taken into custody the night before [Hussein Malla/AP]