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Covid-19: Clashes in Lebanon's Tripoli over lockdown rules

Police fired teargas and rubber bullets as demonstrators angered at fines and a mounting economic crisis
Lebanese anti-government protesters clash with security forces following a demonstration against dire economic conditions, in the northern city of Tripoli on 25 January 2021 (AFP)

Anger over Covid-19 lockdown rules spilled over into violence in the Lebanese city of Tripoli on Monday evening, as security forces fired teargas and rubber bullets at anti-government demonstrators.

Protesters burned tyres and threw rocks at police, angered by "the lockdown, fines against those who flout it and the suffocating economic crisis," according to The National News Agency (NNA).

The NNA said some protesters had thrown rocks at the main government building, while the Lebanese Red Cross reported that more than 30 people were injured, six of them hospitalised.

It was not immediately clear whether the protest was spontaneous or organised, but Tripoli has seen previous protests against the measures.

The northern city is Lebanon's poorest, and many residents live below the poverty line.

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Lockdown measures have been poorly observed in Tripoli, and security forces have repeatedly clamped down on offenders.

Lebanon last week extended a total lockdown by two weeks to stem a rise in coronavirus cases and protect its collapsing health sector.

The restrictions include a round-the-clock curfew with grocery shopping limited to home deliveries, aimed at reining in one of the steepest spikes in Covid-19 infections in the world.

Cases skyrocketed after families gathered during the end-of-year holidays and authorities allowed revellers to gather in bars until 3am, despite warnings from health professionals.

The country of six million has seen over 280,000 cases and 2,404 deaths from the disease.

The surge in infections comes on top of the country's worst economic crisis since its 15-year civil war ended in 1990.

Lebanon is expecting its first vaccines next month.