Dozens hurt in Lebanon clashes on Beirut blast anniversary

Security forces attempt to disperse protesters gathering outside the entrance to the port of Lebanon's capital on Aug 4, 2021.
Security forces attempt to disperse protesters gathering outside the entrance to the port of Lebanon's capital on Aug 4, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (AFP) - Dozens were injured on Wednesday (Aug 4) when Lebanese police clashed with protesters demanding accountability for last year’s Beirut port explosion, a short distance from the main event marking the tragedy’s first anniversary.

Scuffles in central Beirut broke out between riot police and stone-lobbing protesters, who lit a fire and tried to storm the parliament’s headquarters, whose members have been accused of stalling a probe into the disaster.

Riot police responded by firing tear gas, rubber bullets and water canons, and urging “peaceful protesters” to leave.

“In light of repeated attacks on members of the Internal Security Forces, we will resort to legitimate and proportionate means ... against non-peaceful demonstrators,” police said in a statement.

Shortly afterwards, Lebanese television appeared to show a tank moving in to the area.

The Red Cross, which dispatched 21 ambulances and 100 paramedics, said it transported eight people to hospital, and had treated dozens more on-site.

Nearby, a few hundred of metres away at the port, thousands gathered to mark the first anniversary of the explosion which killed at least 214 people.

Survivors and relatives of blast victims carried flags and portraits of the dead, as prayers and mournful tunes rang out amid a mix of grief and anger.

There were no reports of violence there.

Shortly after 6pm on Aug 4, 2020, a stock of ammonium nitrate fertiliser haphazardly stored at the city’s port exploded and left swathes of the Lebanese capital looking like a war zone.

One year on, no senior official has been held to account. A local investigation has yet to yield major arrests or even identify a culprit, with political leaders widely accused of obstructing justice.


Demonstrators throw stones during a protest near parliament, as Lebanon marks the one-year anniversary of the explosion in Beirut, on Aug 4, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS


Tear gas is fired by security forces towards demonstrators during a protest near parliament, as Lebanon marks the one-year anniversary of the explosion in Beirut. PHOTO: REUTERS


Demonstrators attempt to break a gate during a protest near parliament. PHOTO: REUTERS


Demonstrators attempt to climb over a gate during a protest near parliament. PHOTO: REUTERS