Banks smashed during protests in Lebanon over ailing economy

The facades of several banks were shattered with at least one fire, protests fueled by the Lebanese economic crisis becoming violent in the northern city of Tripoli, said a witness.

The military said an incendiary bomb was dropped on one of its vehicles and a hand grenade was launched on a patrol during riots in Tripoli, slightly injuring two soldiers. Public and private property were attacked and banks burned down, the statement said.

The military attributed the problem to “a number of infiltrators” and called on peaceful protesters to quickly leave the streets.

The banking association said all Tripoli banks closed from Tuesday until security is restored, saying the banks had been the target of “severe attacks and riots”.

Lebanese banks were the frequent target of protesters during the financial and economic crisis which led to the collapse of the value of the Lebanese pound and the freezing of savers of their deposits.

The long-term crisis peaked last year as capital inflows to Lebanon slowed and protests broke out against its political elite. Since then, the pound has lost more than half its value, fueling inflation in a country heavily dependent on imports.

(REUTERS)