Banks smashed as protests turn violent in Lebanon's Tripoli

Credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR

The facades of several banks were smashed with at least one set on fire as protests fuelled by Lebanon's economic crisis turned violent in the northern city of Tripoli overnight, a witness said.

BEIRUT, April 28 (Reuters) - The facades of several banks were smashed with at least one set on fire as protests fuelled by Lebanon's economic crisis turned violent in the northern city of Tripoli overnight, a witness said.

The army said a fire-bomb was thrown at one of its vehicles and a hand grenade was hurled at a patrol during rioting in Tripoli, lightly wounding two soldiers. Public and private property had been attacked and banks set on fire, it said.

The army blamed the trouble on "a number of infiltrators" and called on peaceful protesters to quickly leave the streets.

The banking association declared all banks in Tripoli shut from Tuesday until security is restored, saying banks had been targeted in "serious attacks and rioting".

Lebanon's banks have been a frequent target of protesters during the financial and economic crisis that has led to the collapse in the value of the Lebanese pound and frozen savers out of their deposits.

The long-brewing crisis came to a head last year as capital inflows to Lebanon slowed and protests erupted against its political elite. Since then, the pound has lost more than half its value, fuelling inflation in a country heavily dependent on imports.

(Writing by Tom Perry Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

((thomas.perry@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: thomas.perry.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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