Over 330 People Wounded in Lebanon After Clashes in Beirut

(TELESUR) – More than 330 people were treated for injuries sustained during clashes between the Lebanese security forces and protesters in central Beirut on Saturday, the Red Cross reported.

The clashes, which lasted for several hours on Saturday, forced the closure of several streets in Beirut’s central district, prompting the Lebanese security forces cordon off these areas in order to prevent the spread of violence inside the capital.

The Lebanese Red Cross previously announced it had treated 220 people who were wounded on both sides on Saturday night, taking 80 of them to hospital. The Civil Defence said it had treated 114 others. The Internal Security Forces said 142 police were injured.

The total treated has since increased by more than 100 as many wounded people made their way to the local hospitals for treatment.

Smoke enveloped a commercial district of the capital as police fired volleys of tear gas and unleashed water cannons. They chased after hundreds of men and women near Lebanon’s parliament late into the night.

Protesters yelling “revolution” hurled stones, steel barriers and flower pots. They chanted against Lebanon’s speaker and interior minister, trying to storm a heavily barricaded part of central Beirut that includes parliament.

Young men, with their faces covered, ripped branches off trees and signposts off the ground, charging at riot police.

Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as prime minister in October, said there was a way “to calm the popular storm”. The ex-PM said, “stop wasting time, form a government, open the door to political and economic solutions,” he tweeted.

In months of protests that have gripped the country and pushed Hariri to quit, politicians wrangling over cabinet seats have failed to agree a new government or a rescue plan.

Meanwhile, the crisis is biting: the Lebanese pound has lost nearly half its value, dollar shortages have driven up prices and confidence in the banking system has collapsed.