Lebanese Burn Political Party Offices 12/15 09:05
BEIRUT (AP) -- Attackers in northern Lebanon set fire to the offices of two
major political parties on Sunday, the state-run National News Agency said.
The assaults came just hours after the capital Beirut was rocked by the most
violent government crackdown on protesters since nationwide demonstrations
began two months ago. Lebanese security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas
and used water cannons throughout the night to disperse anti-government
protesters from the city center --- the epicenter of the protest movement in
Beirut --- and around parliament.
The overnight confrontations in Beirut left more than 130 people injured,
according to the Red Cross and the Lebanese Civil Defense.
In the northern Akkar district on Sunday, attackers broke the windows and
torched the local office for resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri's political
party in the town of Kharibet al-Jindi.
In a separate attack in Akkar district, assailants stormed the local office
of the largest party in parliament, affiliated with President Michel Aoun and
headed by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. The party said the contents of the
office in the town of Jedidat al-Juma had also been smashed and burned.
Lebanon is facing one of its worst economic crises in decades, and the
protesters accuse the ruling political class in place for three decades of
mismanagement and corruption.
The violence comes a day before the president is due to hold talks with
different parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister on Monday.
Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan on Sunday ordered an investigation into the
clashes which she said injured both protesters and security forces. She said
she watched the confrontations "with concern, sadness and shock."
Al-Hassan blamed "infiltrators" for instigating the friction and called on
the demonstrators to be wary of those who want to exploit their protests for
political reasons. She didn't elaborate.
Nationwide protests began on Oct. 17, and the government headed by Hariri
resigned two weeks later.
Political parties have since been bickering over the shape and form of the
new Cabinet. Protesters want a technocratic government, not affiliated with
established political parties.
After weeks of back and forth, Hariri has emerged as the likely candidate
for the job.