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Security forces fire tear gas as protests in Beirut turn ugly

The tension comes only two days before the president meets with parliamentary blocs to name a prime minister.

Anti-government protesters run away as the riot police fired tear gas (Hussein Malla/AP)
Anti-government protesters run away as the riot police fired tear gas (Hussein Malla/AP)

By Hussein Malla, Associated Press

Security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas as violence between police and anti-government protesters in Lebanon flared up.

The violence was some of the worst in the capital Beirut since demonstrations began two months ago.

The trouble started on Saturday when dozens of men, some wearing masks, pelted security forces with stones and threw firecrackers at them on one edge of a protest camp.

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Riot police officers arrest an anti-government protester trying to enter parliament square in downtown Beirut (Hussein Malla/AP)

For first time in Beirut, anti-riot police fired rubber bullets at protesters, whom they chased away from the city centre.

It was not clear what caused the harsh crackdown meted out against the anti-government protesters following the earlier clashes with those who attacked the protest camp.

The tension comes only two days before the president meets with parliamentary blocs to name a prime minister.

Earlier consultations were postponed amid the failure of rival political groups to agree on a new head of government.

Protesters have been calling for a new government unaffiliated with establishment political parties after the government headed by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in October.

PA

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