Tensions are reportedly mounting in Martyr's Square in Beirut on Sunday, August 30, after pro-government elements trashed a stage set up by anti-government protesters ahead of an announcement regarding future protest action. Protest groups were due to announce an alliance and plans to push for changes to the current political ruling class at 18:00 (local time). Ahead of the announcement members of the Alam Movement and Hezbollah Shia groups are reported to have destroyed the stage, speakers, and other material set up in the square. Low-level scuffles have been reported between rival political groups.
Further clashes are possible in the vicinity of the square in the coming hours.
Anti-government sentiment has intensified in recent weeks following an explosion that occurred in the Port of Beirut on August 4. The explosion killed at least 190 people, injured more than 6500 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 initially declared on 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.
Those 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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