Angry mob opposed to the government began protest in central Beirut, on Sunday, moving towards the Lebanese prime minister's office and clashed with security forces after a funeral for the nation's intelligence chief.
Protesters hurled sticks, stones and flags. Tear gas was fired and gunshots
were heard. A number of injuries were reported in addition to cases of fainting,
Lebanon's National News Agency reported.
Sunday's anti-government protests came after a series of political speeches
given to the crowd gathered in Beirut's central square for the funeral for Brig.
Gen Wissam al-Hassan.
"This government is responsible for the assassination of martyr Brigadier
General Wissam al-Hasan and his companion martyrs, therefore, this government
must leave," former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told the crowd.
A mob surged from the central square toward the prime minister's office,
growing in number and in intensity. Dozens rushed toward police lines.
Later, in a television interview, Siniora said using violence to attempt to
enter the government building was unacceptable.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a billionaire supported by Syrian ally
Hezbollah, announced on Saturday that he planned to stay in power, despite
having offered his resignation to appease those who claimed Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad was behind Friday's car bombing that killed al-Hassan.
"To hold me personally responsible for the assassination is unfair," he told
reporters Saturday. "I have always respected and admired al-Hassan, who has done
great things for Lebanon."
Critics have said Mikati and other Lebanese officials are too close to the
Some politicians had called for a day of rage Sunday, two days after the most
high-profile assassination in Lebanon in more than seven years. Others,
including speakers at the funeral, had urged crowds to remain peaceful.
Al-Hassan and two others died in Friday's car bombing.
Some Lebanese political leaders have called for a day of protests as
accusations over who's responsible homed in on the Syrian regime of Bashar
The attack in broad daylight, at one of the capital's busiest intersections
left a crater more than a meter deep.
Syria condemned the blasts very quickly after they happened on Friday.
Al-Hassan was despised by the pro-Assad Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah,
pro-Syrian Lebanese parties and the Syrian government.
He was aligned with the March 14 movement, the anti-Syrian regime coalition
that emerged after Hariri's assassination in 2005. That movement was key in
forcing the withdrawal of Syrian troops, which had long occupied neighboring
Lebanon and pulled out months after Hariri was killed.
Al-Hassan's killing brought a sense of deja vu to Lebanese, recalling the
2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which triggered the
end of Syria's occupation of Lebanon, and the turmoil that followed.
Al-Hassan spearheaded investigations of Hariri's death and a series of
killings that targeted major anti-Syrian political figures.
He had worked closely with the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigating
the Hariri assassination. He had survived two assassination attempts, including
one that killed an official getting evidence in Hariri's killing.