Riot police have fired tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters in Beirut on Saturday, August 8. The demonstrators were reportedly attempting to break through a barrier outside the parliament building. Around 5000 people had gathered at Matryrs' Square with previous anti-government sentiment fanned by anger over the government's handling of the major explosion which occurred in the Port of Beirut on Tuesday, August 4.
Clashes in the area around the parliament building and Martyrs Square between protesters and security forces are reportedly ongoing. Further unrest and associated clashes are likely in the coming hours, and 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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