Police clash with violent protesters in Beirut, 728 injured

BEIRUT: Police have rained tear gas and rubber bullets on thousands of Lebanese demonstrators who blame the government for a massive explosion that killed more than 150 people and devastated much of the capital.
According to the Lebanese Red Cross, 728 people have been wounded in clashes with authorities as thousands of protesters hit the streets of central Beirut as riot police fired tear gas at those trying to break through a barrier to the parliament building.
One police officer was also reported killed. Lebanese authorities have also taken into custody 30 people as part of an investigation.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has called for early polls after Tuesday’s deadly blast, saying it is the only way out of the country’s crisis.
READ MORE: Lebanese president rejects global probe into Beirut port blasts
More than 158 people were killed in the explosion and 6,000 others injured, but numbers are expected to rise as search and rescue operations continue for missing people.
The explosion was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a chemical compound that can be used for fertilizers and explosives, that had been stored in a warehouse at the port for 6- years.
The level of violence intensified and video footage showed some soldiers beating a group of protesters.

The security force’s use of tear gas was so indiscriminate that behind police and army lines policemen doused themselves in water to alleviate the stinging.

Lebanese people blame the country’s political class, long criticized for corruption and mismanagement, for the explosion which came as the nation was already grappling with its worst economic crisis in decades.
READ MORE: FM Qureshi expresses sorrow over loss of lives in Beirut
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