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52 security officers injured in Lebanon protests

October 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm

People attend a protest against increasingly difficult living conditions, at Martyrs’ Square in Beirut, Lebanon on September 29, 2019 [Hussam Chbaro / Anadolu Agency]

At least 52 security officers were injured and 70 people were arrested Friday during protests that erupted over government plans to impose a fee on calls over WhatsApp and similar applications.

Lebanon’s security directorate said on Twitter that security forces and protesters clashed in various districts of Beirut following a speech by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who gave political parties a three-day deadline to support his reform agenda for resolving the country’s economic crisis.

Seventy protesters were arrested for causing a commotion, it added.

Read: Lebanon backtracks hours after imposing taxes on internet calls

Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan on Twitter also urged the demonstrators not to damage public and private property.

The protests started Thursday in the country, which has been facing economic troubles due to refugee waves from Syria and charges of government “corruption.”

International credit rating agency Fitch downgraded Lebanon’s credit rating from B- to CCC on Aug. 24.

The country is going through the largest protests since the 2015 garbage crisis which saw trash pile up in the streets.

Read: Hariri cancels cabinet meeting amidst calls for resignation