100 injured in clashes between protesters, riot police in Lebanon

Protesters attacked banks and clashed with security forces this week

Protesters attacked banks and clashed with security forces this week

And after months of peaceful rallies, the protesters have called for a week of rage.

The protests began with a few dozen people gathering in central Beirut over the imposition of a daily fee of 20 U.S. cents (29 cents) on messaging applications, including WhatsApp.

In a statement released overnight, Lebanon's State Security department said the US citizen was at the scene of the protest near the parliament building, a location from which someone was broadcasting live to the Israeli paper.

The Lebanese Red Cross said it took 65 people to hospitals and treated 100 others on the spot, calling on people to donate blood. More than 460 people were injured. Lebanon's Internal Security Forces said 142 of its members were injured, some with serious concussions.

This weekend's clashes come as Lebanese politicians continue to struggle to agree a new government.

Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as premier in October, said the violence threatened civil peace.

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Security forces said they had opened a probe after a video shared online showed police beating up people believed to be protesters as they were brought to a Beirut police station.

They chanted against Lebanon's speaker and interior minister, trying to storm a heavily barricaded part of central Beirut that includes parliament. Workers also welded fencing together across roads leading to Parliament.

Earlier in Beirut on Sunday, shopkeepers, banks and other businesses swept up broken glass and boarded-up windows. The demonstrators widely blame Lebanese financial institutions, alongside government corruption, for the crippling economic crisis.

Soot and ashes still littered the ground where security forces burned the tents of the protesters who staged a sit-in.

An AFP photographer said security forces fired rubber bullets at the stone-throwing protesters as thick clouds of tear gas covered central Beirut.

National religious authorities also weighed in, with the top Sunni Fatwa office criticising clashes and saying that a major downtown mosque had offered care to protesters seeking refuge there.

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The pitched street battles lasted for almost nine hours, with both protesters and the government trading blame for the violence.

Many protesters took out their ire against the banks that have restricted access to savings accounts and money transfers overseas by smashing the facade of the banking association. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters. They chased after hundreds of men and women near Lebanon's parliament late into the night.

It accused the riot police on January 18 of "launching tear gas canisters at protesters' heads, firing rubber bullets in their eyes and attacking people at hospitals and a mosque".

Lebanon has witnessed three months of protests against the political elites who have ruled the country since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.

Panic and anger have gripped the public as the Lebanese pound, pegged to the dollar for more than two decades, plummeted in value.

Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab met with President Michel Aoun on Sunday evening but left without giving any statement as a deal on the new cabinet remained elusive.

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