06/16/2020, 09.52
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Beirut, anti-government protests: Army arrests dozens of people

Hundreds of people clash with the military during demonstrations against a "corrupt and incapable" political class. At least 36 people jailed for damaging public and private property. President Aoun slams "thugs": vandalism "will no longer be tolerated".

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Lebanese army has made dozens of arrests of people suspected of "vandalism" after days of anti-government protests exacerbated by the hyper-devaluation of the currency and by the worst economic crisis for decades, aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Throughout the weekend  hundreds of people clashed with the security forces, in the context of street demonstrations against a ruling class branded as "corrupt and incapable".

This explosive situation also worries the Maronite patriarch who, in the homily of the Sunday mass, attacked the factions that fuel "chaos and revolt".

According to a note published this morning by the army, the "total number of arrests made by military intelligence between June 11 and 15 in different parts of the country is 36 people for vandalism". Prosecutors also included damage to public and private property, as well as deliberate attacks on security forces.

Local sources report that the soldiers made a series of raids in the northern port city of Tripoli. For three consecutive nights, men with covered faces allegedly attacked banks and shops, throwing stones and boulders at the soldiers who responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Health workers spoke of dozens of wounded.

After the days of violent protests, an apparent calm reigns since the evening of June 14 and the demonstrations have remained mostly in peaceful tones. Yesterday the President of the Republic Michel Aoun spoke with the security leaders of the situation in the country; the summit was attended by ministers and senior military officers. At the end of the meeting, Aoun stressed that "vandalism of this type will no longer be tolerated starting today".

 Prime Minister Hassan Diab condemned the acts of "sabotage" committed by "thugs" in Beirut and Tripoli. The reference, although not explicit, is to the men of Hezbollah and Amal who have given a violent drift to the demonstrations. "These hooligans - said the head of the government - are not motivated by carrying out vandalism, for this reason they should be thrown into prison".

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