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Lebanon protesters torch government building after demonstrator killed

Fire engulfs the interior of the municipality building, in the impoverished northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli [FATHI AL-MASRI/AFP via Getty Images]
Fire engulfs the interior of the municipality building, in the impoverished northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli [FATHI AL-MASRI/AFP via Getty Images]

Protesters in Lebanon torched a government building last night after a man was killed in clashes with security forces.

Omar Taybah, 30, was shot in the back with live ammunition during protests in the northern city of Tripoli on Wednesday night.

He passed away in the early hours of Thursday, France24 reported.

Security forces said Taybah was shot when they fired live rounds in order to disperse protesters who were attempting to storm a government building.

Hundreds of mourners marched through Tripoli for his funeral yesterday before pouring back into the city's main square.

Last night, demonstrators targeted a municipality building, torching it just before midnight.

Videos circulated on social media showing the building engulfed in flames with plumes of grey smoke billowing out of the windows.

Protesters also hurled Molotov cocktails at security forces, who responded with tear gas.

Some demonstrators gathered outside the houses of prominent Tripoli politicians, including MP Faisal Karami and former Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

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Mikati later told news channel Al Jadeed that he would start carrying weapons to protect himself from violent protests.

Protesters returned to the streets five days ago over a 24-hour national lockdown which has worsened the already dire economic situation and prevented many from working.

In the previous three lockdowns, the government provided financial assistance to those unable to work because of the restrictions. However, the government is yet to announce plans to help vulnerable people financially under the current round-the-clock curfew.

Under the lockdown rules, shops and restaurants have been shuttered and grocery shopping restricted to home deliveries which are often not available in poor areas.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) researched Aya Majzoub called for an investigation into Taybah's death yesterday.

She said: "The government neglected the needs of Tripoli's people and used brute force to silence them when they dared demand a better life."

Taybah's death comes only days after Amnesty International condemned Lebanon security for their excessive and unlawful use of force against protesters.

The investigation said French ammunition from tear gas canisters, pepper sprays to grenade launchers, rubber bullets and armoured vehicles used to transfer troops were deployed to suppress mass protests.

READ: Lebanese use Hezbollah for loans amid the financial crisis

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