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Lebanon army says 16 held after night of unrest


AFP Beirut
Lebanon's army said on Wednesday it detained 16 people during a third night of violence across the country, as tensions rose following more than 40 days of unprecedented protests.
Clashes erupted on Tuesday evening in Tripoli, the northern port city where protests have maintained momentum since anti-government demonstrations began on October 17.
On the outskirts of Beirut, clashes shook the neighbourhoods of Ain al-Remmaneh and Chiyah.
"Army units arrested 16 people following incidents that shook several areas of Lebanon," a statement read, adding that 51 troops were wounded.
In Tripoli, dozens of people were wounded when "dissenters" attacked banks, breaking windows and destroying money machines, the official ANI news agency reported.
They had previously tried to attack offices of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), a Christian party founded by President Michel Aoun, and the army fired in the air to disperse them, ANI said.
However, activists on social networks blamed thugs for "infiltrating" protests.
The army said 33 soldiers in Tripoli were wounded by stones and petrol bombs. A grenade hurled at soldiers failed to explode, the statement said.
South of Beirut, the military intervened to end clashes between inhabitants of the Christian district of Ain al-Remmaneh and the Shiite Muslim suburb of Chiyah, local media reported.
The trouble began after a video circulated on WhatsApp showing Ain al-Remmaneh residents insulting the head of powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah. The clip was later shown to be old.
Tensions regularly erupt in this area which saw the first clashes of the 1975-1990 civil war.
On Wednesday, a group of around 100 women marched from Ain al-Remmaneh to Chiyah to denounce the violence. They chanted "No to civil war!" and "We are all united!" and were greeted by residents throwing flowers and rice from balconies.
In the east Beirut district of Bikfaya, clashes erupted between backers of two rival Christian parties, after Phalangist supporters blocked a march organised by FPM supporters, ANI reported.
Since the start of protests against a ruling class deemed inept and corrupt, demonstrations have remained largely peaceful, despite sporadic clashes with security forces or attacks by supporters of various political factions.
Tensions have grown since Sunday, with attacks by supporters of Shiite parties Hezbollah and Amal on protests in central Beirut, Tyre in the south and Baalbek in the east.
In a statement on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said the authorities should not allow any group to inflict violence on peaceful demonstrators.
"Men armed with batons, knives and stones, brandishing Hezbollah and Amal flags, attacked protesters... in some cases in full view of the security forces," HRW said.

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First Published: Nov 28 2019 | 5:00 AM IST

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