Lebanon: Army, protesters clash in Beirut amid protests

BEIRUT

The Lebanese army clashed Wednesday with protesters blocking a highway linking southern Lebanon to the capital Beirut. 

The clashes broke out as soldiers used force to reopen a number of roads blocked by demonstrators in Zouk Mosbeh and Jal al-Dib districts in northern Beirut.

Two people were reportedly injured in the violence.

The clashes came as protesters continued their anti-government demonstrations for an eighth day over deteriorating economic conditions in the country.

Mass protests erupted across Lebanon last week against plans to tax calls on Whatsapp and other messaging services. The demonstrations quickly turned into wider grievances with calls for resignation of the Lebanese government and bringing corrupt officials to accountability.

On Monday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced a package of economic reforms in an attempt to quell the mass protests and growing anger against his cabinet.

The plan includes steps to cut Lebanon’s huge deficit by slashing salaries of politicians by half and giving financial help to families in poverty.

Lebanon suffers from high unemployment, little growth and one of the highest debts ratios in the world, with a debt burden reaching $86.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, according to a statement by the Lebanese Ministry of Finance in May 2019.

*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara
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