BEIRUT, Nov 13, (AP): A local official for a Lebanese political party was shot dead by soldiers trying to open a road closed by protesters in southern Beirut late Tuesday, the army reported, marking the first death in 27 days of nationwide protests.
An army statement said the man was shot in the Khaldeh neighborhood after an altercation during which a soldier opened fire to disperse the crowd, hitting one person. It said the army command had opened an investigation into the killing after arresting the soldier.
The incident was sure to infl ame tensions already running high in the country, which has been engulfed by nationwide protests against the country’s entire political class since Oct 17.
The leaderless, economically driven protests were triggered by new proposed taxes and have quickly evolved into the most spread and most sustained Lebanon has seen in years. The man was identified as a local official with the Progressive Socialist Party headed by Walid Jumblatt, political leader of Lebanon’s Druze community. It was confirmed by the party’s Al-Anbaa newspaper.
Jumblatt told an angry crowd outside the hospital where the man died of his wounds to calm down, saying that “no one will protect us but the state.” He added that he spoke with the army chief and was told about the investigation. Protesters had poured into the streets Tuesday night closing roads around Lebanon after President Michel Aoun said in a televised interview that there could be further delays before a new government is formed.