At least 220 wounded as Lebanon protesters clash with police

Beirut (AFP) - Clashes between police and Lebanese protesters wounded more than 220 people on both sides Saturday in the highest such tally in three months of anti-establishment demonstrations.

The sound of ambulance sirens rang out across Beirut as the Red Cross reported 80 wounded had been taken to hospital and 140 more were treated on site.

The protest movement rocking Lebanon since October 17 revived this week as a deepening economic crisis increases pressure to form a new government.

No progress appears to have been made towards finalising the cabinet, which protesters demand be comprised of independent experts and exclude all established political parties.

After several hours of clashes, the violence died down as demonstrators dispersed. Several were arrested, local media said.

The violence began after dozens of protesters -- some concealing their faces in scarves -- threw rocks and large plant pots at police guarding the road leading up to parliament.

Others charged police lines with traffic signs and metal barriers.

Security forces behind the barricades responded with water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowds.

The violence continued after nightfall, with protesters throwing fire crackers at police in streets.

The National News Agency said demonstrators also vandalised bank facades in central Beirut, and television showed a fire of an unknown origin tearing through protest tents on the main square.

- 'Popular anger' -

"A direct and violent confrontation is taking place with anti-riot police at one of the entrances to parliament," the Internal Security Forces said earlier on Twitter.

"We ask peaceful protesters to keep away from the site of the rioting for their safety."

They published photos of several wounded policemen and a video showing pillars stripped of their tiles, reportedly to be thrown at security forces.

An AFP photographer saw young men uproot parking metres at the start of the clashes, then around 10 people faint from tear gas inhalation. Read More

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