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Lebanon security forces, protesters clash near parliament building

Security forces in Beirut have fired tear gas and used water cannons in clashes with protesters armed with tree branches and sign posts near Lebanon's parliament.

After a lull in largely peaceful protests which broke out across the country in October over the state of the economy, people filled the streets again this week. They are furious at a ruling elite that has steered the country towards its worst economic crisis in decades.

Police wielding batons and firing tear gas have wounded dozens of people at protests in recent days. Protesters are also angry at the banks - which have curbed people's access to their savings - with protesters smashing bank facades and ATMs on Tuesday night.

Lebanon's Internal Security Forces said on Saturday that police in Beirut were being "violently and directly" confronted at one of the entrances to the parliament. In a tweet, it called on people to leave the area for their own safety.

Witnesses said they saw young men hurling stones and flower pots towards riot police, while protesters tried to push through an entrance to a heavily barricaded district of central Beirut, which includes parliament.

Hundreds of protesters marched and chanted against in the political class in other parts of the capital. The unrest, which stemmed from anger at corruption and the rising cost of living, forced Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to resign in October.

Politicians have since failed to agree a new cabinet or rescue plan. The Lebanese pound has lost nearly half its value, while dollar shortages have driven up prices and confidence in the banking system has collapsed.

(Source: Reuters) 

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