One person has died and 200 others were injured in the Lebanese city of Tripoli during a third night of clashes Wednesday between security forces and protesters angered by a coronavirus lockdown that has exacerbated an already severe economic crisis.
Omar Tayba, 29, who was shot and wounded on Wednesday evening, became the first fatality in the protests that erupted earlier this week.
Protesters threw gasoline bombs and stones at security forces, who responded with tear gas, an AFP correspondent said.
The National News Agency said 226 people were injured in the evening – 102 of them were treated by the Lebanese Red Cross and 124 others by the Islamic Medical Association.
At least 66 people have been admitted to hospitals.
On Twitter, security forces reported nine wounded in their ranks.
“We are here to ask for food. People are hungry, ”said Mohammed Ezzedine, a 20-year-old protester. “It’s time for people to take to the streets.”
Tripoli was already one of the poorest regions in Lebanon before the coronavirus pandemic brought further misery to a chronic economic crisis.
Many of its residents have been left with no income since Lebanon imposed a full lockdown earlier this month in a bid to stem a spike in COVID-19 cases and prevent its hospitals from being overwhelmed.
A 24-hour curfew is in effect across the country, and grocery purchases are limited to home deliveries, which are often unavailable in poorer areas.
Authorities have extended the lockdown for two weeks until February 8.
Lebanon has recorded nearly 289,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 2,500 deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The surge in infections comes on top of the country’s worst economic crisis since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990.
Half of the Lebanese population is now poor and nearly a quarter of them live in extreme poverty, according to the United Nations.