One person has died and 200 others have been injured in the Lebanese city of Tripoli during a third night of clashes on Wednesday between security forces and demonstrators angered by a coronavirus lockdown that has worsened an already severe economic crisis.
Omar Tayba, 29, who sustained a bullet wound late on Wednesday, became the first fatality of the protests that erupted earlier this week.
Protesters threw petrol bombs and stones towards security forces, who responded with tear gas, an AFP correspondent said.
The National News Agency said 226 people had been injured in the evening – 102 of them treated by the Lebanese Red Cross, and another 124 by the Islamic Medical Association.
At least 66 people had been admitted to hospitals.
On Twitter, the security forces reported nine injured among their ranks.
“We are here to demand food. People are hungry,” said 20-year-old protester Mohammed Ezzedine. “It’s time for people to take to the streets.”
Tripoli was already one of Lebanon’s poorest areas before the coronavirus pandemic piled new misery onto a chronic economic crisis.
Many of its residents have been left without an income since Lebanon imposed a full lockdown earlier this month in a bid to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases and prevent its hospitals from being overwhelmed.
A round-the-clock curfew is in force nationwide and grocery shopping is restricted to home deliveries, which are often unavailable in poorer areas.
Authorities have extended the lockdown by two weeks to February 8.
Lebanon has recorded nearly 289,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 2,500 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The surge in infections comes on top of the country’s worst economic crisis since its 15-year civil war ended in 1990.
Half of Lebanon’s population is now poor, and almost a quarter of them live in extreme poverty, the United Nations says.