By Agence France-Presse
At least six civilians were wounded in confrontations with the army on Saturday in northern Lebanon, state media reported, during the tenth day of largely peaceful anti-government protests.
The state-run National News Agency reported a face-off between soldiers and residents of the Beddawi area, near the northern port city of Tripoli.
According to the NNA, the army confronted demonstrators trying to block a key road that connects Tripoli to the nearby city of Akkar, leaving six civilians wounded.
Medical sources confirmed to AFP that there were several wounded, without specifying numbers.
An army statement said five soldiers and several civilians were wounded when it intervened to stop a fight between area residents and a group of people blocking the road with their cars.
The statement said troops had been attacked with stones and “large fireworks”, prompting them to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd.
They were ultimately “forced” to fire live and rubber bullets into the air when clashes intensified, the statement added.
In a Tripoli hospital where the wounded were being treated, eye witnesses and relatives challenged the army’s version of events.
An uncle of one of the wounded accused the army of provoking “peaceful demonstrators who were blocking the road” by firing rounds in the air.
Demonstrators then responded by throwing stones, he said, asking not to be named for fear of reprisal.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri has called for an investigation into the incident.
Saturday’s clashes came as protestors thronged towns and cities across Lebanon once more.
Demonstrators blocked roads across the country, as security forces announced they would begin opening key routes.
The demonstrators are demanding the removal of the entire political class, accusing politicians of all stripes of systematic corruption.