Hezbollah supporters assault protesters in Lebanon

BEIRUT

A number of protesters were injured on Friday in Riad al-Solh square in Beirut after Hezbollah supporters stormed the square and attacked them with sticks, a Lebanese TV channel reported.

Supporters of Hezbollah — one of the crucial pillars of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government — clashed with the security forces who tried to separate them from protesters, according to televised channel of MTV.

There is no official number on how many protesters were injured.

Hezbollah supporters chanted the name of their leader Hassan Nasrallah at the square.

On Saturday, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah said his group was not demanding the resignation of the Lebanese government amid mass protests against plans to impose new taxes.

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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