Dozens of protesters reportedly managed to enter the foreign ministry in Beirut on Saturday, August 8, during anti-government demonstrations in the capital. Unconfirmed reports suggest the group are retired army officers who have declared the ministry in central Beirut as the "headquarters of the revolution". Several thousand people had gathered in Martyrs' Square on Saturday afternoon to protest against the government's handling of the major explosion which occurred in the Port of Beirut on Tuesday, August 4. There had already been reports of security forces firing tear gas as protesters attempted to break through a barricade leading to the parliament building. Further clashes in the capital between police and demonstrators are reported to be ongoing. The Lebanese Red Cross has stated on its social media page that as of Saturday evening (local time), 28 people have been transported to nearby hospitals due to injuries in the unrest and over 100 people had been treated at the scene of the protests.
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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