Lebanon protester dies from bullet wound after army clashes

Tripoli (Lebanon) (AFP) –


A 26-year-old protester died Tuesday from a bullet wound he sustained during overnight clashes between hundreds of anti-government demonstrators and the army in north Lebanon.

Fawaz al-Samman's funeral was held in Al-Nour Square, the main protest camp in the city of Tripoli, and attended by dozens of mourners despite a nationwide lockdown because of the coronavirus.

"He took to the streets to demand his rights and he never threw stones at the army or carried a weapon," his sister Fatima told AFP during the ceremony.

Protests rocked Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli overnight, with demonstrators torching banks and vandalising ATM machines in anger at soaring inflation and an unprecedented devaluation of the Lebanese pound.

Scores were wounded on both sides as protesters threw stones at soldiers who fired live rounds in the air and tear gas to disperse crowds.

Fatima said her brother was hit by a bullet in the thigh and later went into a coma before succumbing to his wounds.

She blamed the Lebanese army for the incident.

In a statement, the army expressed its "regret" for the death, saying it has opened an investigation.

It said it respects freedom of expression, as long as it does not involve the destruction of private and public property.

Earlier, the army said 40 troops were wounded in the clashes, and accused demonstrators of torching three banks, destroying several ATMs and attacking an army vehicle.

It said nine people were arrested, while a local health body in Tripoli said 20 other people were wounded.

Lebanon is facing the worst economic crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.

The economic meltdown has reignited a protest movement that first rallied in October to demand the overhaul of a political class deemed incompetent and corrupt.