Lebanon News

Day 100 marked by attacks from Amal supporters

Amal supporters beat protesters near the Council of the South in Jnah, Jan. 24, 2020. (STOP Cultural Terrorism in Lebanon)

BEIRUT/NABATIEH: Lebanon’s anti-government protests entered their 100th day Friday, amid violent confrontations that broke out between protesters and Amal Movement supporters in Beirut’s southern suburb of Jnah. Videos showed protesters being chased and beaten in front of the Council of the South building by “partisan groups” carrying sticks.

The victims held Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who also heads the Amal Movement, responsible.

Amal Movement sources told LBCI that the incident did not involve “any party decision.”

No official statement or denial was issued by the group.

Video footage on social media showed a group of men with sticks and baseball bats descending on protesters. One man violently attacked a woman taking the video with a stick, yelling at her to drop her phone.

“Where are the security forces to come and protect us here?” someone was heard saying in the video.

According to the reports, security forces were absent from the scene when the attack occurred.

It was reported that the Lebanese Army arrived later on to diffuse the situation.

“They beat me with a stick and my head is injured,” a driver of a bus that had been smashed said during a televised interview.

The left side of his face was bleeding as he spoke.

Video footage showed the shattered windshields of dozens of cars in the area after the incident.

Another protester said that while people were running for safety, she heard an assailant say, “I have orders to shoot you.”

This is not the first time Amal supporters have been accused of attacking protesters.

Throughout the nationwide protests, Amal and Hezbollah supporters have repeatedly ransacked tents and beaten protesters.

Newly appointed Interior Minister Mohammad Fahmi issued a statement saying that security forces had already arrested two suspects, identified as M.R. and H.H,. who were linked to the attacks.

Fahmi, in an earlier statement, condemned the “brutal manner in .which peaceful protesters and demonstrators, including women, were treated,” during the protests.

The interior minister said that the competent security forces would “spare no effort in pursuing the attackers and identifying them,” adding that investigations were underway to finding those responsible and their motives.

A group of assailants reportedly linked to the Amal Movement attacked the crew of local TV channel MTV Thursday night.

MTV’s reporter and cameraman were attacked while they were driving back to Beirut from the Bekaa town of Jalala.

The Council of the South released a statement after the altercations, condemning the violence, adding that the administration remained unaware of what had happened.

Further south in Nabatieh, protesters gathered to mark the 100th day of protests, where they chanted slogans of the uprising and played patriotic songs. They marked the occasion by erecting a “fist of the revolution,” similar to that which sits in Martyrs’ Square

Meanwhile, dozens of protesters gathered in Tripoli’s Al Nour Square Friday evening under the slogan “100 days of thawra - No trust in the government.”

Friday marked the 100th day since mass protests first erupted against political corruption and a deteriorating economic situation in Lebanon. - Additional reporting by Mohammed Zaatari

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 25, 2020, on page 2.

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