Medics said 70 people were injured in renewed clashes between protesters and police in Lebanon's capital on Sunday, taking the toll of wounded from two days of violence to nearly 450.
The Lebanese Red Cross said it had treated 220 people who were wounded on both sides on Saturday night, taking 80 of them to hospital. "It's clear that the more they (security forces) step up their violence, the more people's strength and determination grow". The protesters, who came from the country's north, east and the capital itself, clubbed security forces with tree branches and metal bars and fired flares and fireworks, while lobbing stones and other projectiles at them.
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Human Rights Watch condemned what it called "the brutal use of force unleashed by Lebanon's riot police against largely peaceful demonstrators".
The clashes intensified throughout the night as more protesters streamed into the area and made repeated attempts to breach the barricade, hurling rocks and fireworks as police fired rubber bullets and teargas that blanketed central Beirut in a milky haze.
Parts of central Beirut were choked in teargas and swarmed by riot police as street battles raged for almost nine hours, with protesters throwing flares, stones and branches at security forces.
Organisers had called for protesters in different parts of the capital to converge by sundown on the road leading to the Lebanese parliament in central Beirut.
It accused the riot police on January 18 of "launching tear gas canisters at protesters' heads, firing rubber bullets in their eyes and attacking people at hospitals and a mosque".
President Michel Aoun ordered the army and security commanders to restore calm.
But protesters say they want to scrap the old system, and demand only impartial technocrats staff a new government to address their growing economic woes, including a severe liquidity crisis.
"The police hit me", the architect, 25, said.
Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as premier in October, said the violence threatened civil peace.
"Stop wasting time, form a government, open the door to political and economic solutions", he tweeted on Sunday.
Since then, the country's leaders have been dragging their feet on forming a new government.
"Violence only breeds violence", she said.
Lebanon has one of the largest debt ratios in the world with a debt that stands at more than 150% of the country's GDP.
Political factions agreed on December 19 to appoint former education minister Hassan Diab as the new premier but have since squabbled over proposed ministers.
People have also turned their ire on the banks - which have curbed access to savings - with some smashing the facade of the banking association on Saturday night.