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January 28, 2021 11:06 am

In Locked-Down Lebanon, Tripoli Protester Killed in Night of Unrest

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

People carry the coffin of a protestor, who was killed in clashes between security forces and demonstrators during a protest against the lockdown and worsening economic conditions, during his funeral in Tripoli, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Lebanon January 28, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim.

A man was killed in the Lebanese city of Tripoli on Thursday in clashes between security forces and protesters angry over a strict coronavirus lockdown that has cut off livelihoods in a collapsing economy.

The 30-year-old man, Omar Taybah, was hit by a bullet overnight, according to a local hospital that treated him, a security source and residents. Dozens marched at his funeral later in the day.

Witnesses and local media said police fired live bullets overnight as protesters tried to storm the northern city’s government building. Scores of people were wounded.

Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who hurled stones and Molotov cocktails, witnesses and police said.

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The police did not respond to a question on whether they had fired live rounds and whether a protester was killed.

Reuters footage showed sparks hitting the ground, apparently from ricocheting bullets, with the sound of gunfire.

It was the third straight night of violence in one of Lebanon’s poorest cities, after the government imposed a 24-hour nationwide curfew this month to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 2,500.

“People are tired. There’s poverty, misery, lockdown and there’s no work… Our problem is the politicians,” said Samir Agha at the protest.


Aid workers say the lockdown is piling extra hardship on the poor, now more than half the population, with little government aid. A currency crash has triggered fears of rising hunger.

Still, Lebanese leaders have yet to launch a rescue plan or enact reforms to unlock aid, prompting rebuke including from foreign donors.

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces said rioters threw hand grenades, including at a patrol, injuring at least nine officers. They said they would respond with “full severity and decisiveness.”

Human Rights Watch called for an investigation into Thursday’s death. “The government neglected the needs of Tripoli’s people and used brute force…when they demanded a better life,” researcher Aya Majzoub said.

The Red Cross said it took 35 people to hospitals, which are struggling with some of the region’s highest COVID-19 infection levels.

Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab has said the lockdown was necessary.

Lebanon’s financial meltdown, it worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, erupted in 2019, sparking protests across the country against leaders who oversaw decades of state graft.

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