A group of protesters stormed the foreign ministry in Beirut Saturday as rallies were held at the city’s Martyrs’ Square calling on officials to resign in the aftermath of deadly Beirut Port explosion.
Participants shouted slogans, blaming officials for negligence leading to the Tuesday blast. Some were hurling stones as the demonstrators tried to force their way past a barricade in a street that leads to parliament.
The police were then forced to fire teargas canisters to disperse the protesters.
Security forces had sent reinforcements to the downtown area, who later called for peaceful demonstrators to move away from areas where violence was taking place.
“We will not accept the exposure of our forces, especially after so many have been wounded in our ranks,” Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces said in a statement.
An Internal Security Forces member was killed while helping people inside “Le Gray” Hotel in downtown Beirut. ISF statement said he was attacked by a number of riotous killers.
The building housing the economy and environment ministries, also entered by demonstrators, was set on fire. As night fell flames engulfed a large truck in the central square.
Ambulances ferried newly injured demonstrators to hospitals even as the death toll in Tuesday’s explosion and fireball climbed to at least 158 people.
Protesters’ entry into the foreign ministry appeared to have been facilitated by the damage the historical building sustained in Tuesday’s huge explosion.
In a televised speech, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he would propose early elections.
Diab said he would remain head of the government for two more months until parties reach “an agreement,” calling on all political parties to put their disagreements aside and work together.