BEIRUT: Protesters in the Bekaa town of Taalabaya rained rocks on Lebanese soldiers who had forcefully attempted to clear them from a main road, in the biggest escalation between protesters and security forces Thursday.
A local resident told The Daily Star that the Army beat and dragged protesters away during the clearance attempt. Live footage and videos circulated afterward showed soldiers retreating under a hail of rocks and projectiles, with some protecting themselves with plastic chairs.
Taalabaya Mayor George Sawan confirmed that the Army had first tried to clear the road, resulting in scuffles, which deteriorated. He said the situation had since returned to normal.
“The road keeps opening and closing every day. We go and clean the dirt and tires and rocks, and then it’s closed and we do it all over again,” he told The Daily Star.
Sawan said that Thursday’s clash was the most serous to take place in the town. “Let’s hope a government is formed in the next couple days and it will reduce tension.
President Michel Aoun earlier Thursday said he had hope a government could be formed in the upcoming days, but he has not yet set a date for binding parliamentary consultations to designate a new prime minister.
The government collapsed on Oct. 29 amid nationwide protests against the ruling class.