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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Lebanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse dozens of anti-government demonstrators who gathered late on Thursday in anger at a cataclysmic blast widely seen as the most shocking expression yet of their government's incompetence.
The scuffles in central Beirut took place in a ravaged street leading to parliament with the wreckage from Tuesday's explosion still littering the entire area.
The protesters sparked a blaze, vandalised stores and lobbed stones at security forces, according to the state-run National News Agency.
Police responded with tear gas to disperse the small, but clearly furious crowd, wounding some demonstrators, NNA reported.
Tuesday's blast killed nearly 150 people, wounded at least 5,000 and destroyed entire districts of the capital.
Lebanese authorities said it was triggered by a fire igniting 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate negligently stored in a warehouse at Beirut's port since 2013.
This raised questions as to how such a huge cargo of the highly explosive substance could have been left unsecured for so long.
The explosion came as Lebanon was already knee-deep in its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
It added to the grievances of a protest movement that emerged in October to demand the removal of a political class deemed inept and corrupt.
Activists have called for a large anti-government demonstration on Saturday - an event they have titled "hang them by the gallows".
Thursday's scuffles broke out as Lebanon's ambassador to Jordan resigned, saying “total negligence” by the country's authorities signalled the need for a leadership change.
In a televised statement aired by Lebanese broadcaster MTV, ambassador to Jordan Tracy Chamoun said she could "no longer tolerate" the government's ineptitude.
"I am announcing my resignation as an ambassador... in protest against state negligence, theft and lying," said Chamoun, who was appointed to her post in 2017 with the endorsement of President Michel Aoun.
"This disaster rang a bell: we should not show any of them mercy and they all must go," she added.
The country's ruling class, long accused of ineptitude and corruption, have been the target of a protest movement that began in October demanding systemic change.
The small Mediterranean nation has since been gripped by its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 war, further fuelling anti-government sentiments.
It is the second such resignation over Tuesday's blast, after lawmaker Marwan Hamadeh also stepped down on Wednesday.
Updated: August 7, 2020 02:24 AM
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