Ongoing clashes between protesters and security forces in Beirut on Saturday, August 8, killed one police officer and injured over 110 people. Demonstrators reportedly stormed the headquarters of the Association of Banks, and the Foreign Ministry building and have called for other ministries to be occupied. Police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets in the vicinity of Martyrs' Square, where a fire was reported and some protesters attempted to force their way through metal barriers towards the Parliament building. Police confirmed that shots had been fired; however, it is unclear who fired the shots.
Reports suggest that on Saturday evening Prime Minister Hassan Diab has called for early parliamentary elections to facilitate political reforms as anger over the government's handling of the Port of Beirut explosion on August 4 continues.
Further unrest is expected over the coming hours. A heightened security presence and localized disruptions are anticipated in the vicinity of the protests.
An explosion that occurred in the Port of Beirut on August 4 killed at least 157 people, injured 5000 others, and caused billions of Lebanese Pounds in damages. The blast is believed to have been caused by 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which had been unsafely stored in the area. A state of emergency was declared on Wednesday, August 5, and 20 officials responsible for the operation of the port have so far been placed under arrest.
Allegations of mismanagement regarding the substance's storage come during sustained unrest since October 2019 over corruption and economic hardship within the country whereby protesters have called for reforms to the governance of Lebanon.
Individuals in Beirut, and across Lebanon, are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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