Hundreds of protesters set two banks on fire and clashed with soldiers Tuesday in Tripoli, as the country’s crippling financial crisis is worsened by coronavirus lockdown measures, medical and security sources said.
Clashes erupted, the sources said, after a tense funeral for a man who was shot to death by soldiers during riots overnight in the mostly Sunni Muslim city, one of the most impoverished and neglected areas in Lebanon.
Angry protesters hurled stones at soldiers and threw Molotov cocktails at several banks, causing widespread damage and fueling concerns of more chaos.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab reminded the public “we are facing a new reality,” urged citizens to refrain from violence and warned that "malicious intentions behind the scenes" were "shaking stability."
The Lebanese pound has collapsed as the country’s financial crisis has deteriorated since October, forcing tens of thousands of people out of work and triggering small protests.
Restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus have weakened the economy even more.
Beirut hopes to avoid further outbreaks as it works on passing an economic rescue plan and enters talks with foreign creditors after defaulting on its hefty debt obligations last month.