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Lebanese police defends rubber bullet use in clashes with protesters

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Lebanese police on Tuesday defended the use of rubber bullets in weekend clashes with anti-government protesters, saying it was necessary to counter dangerous rioters. A statement by the Internal Security Force (ISF)  said “rubber bullets in our possession are used in a number of developed countries, including France. “ It can be fired in the direction of the most violent and dangerous rioters, and after several warnings. “Orders are given to the security elements to fire rubber bullets exclusively at the legs, at a distance of about 10 metres.’’ The ISF said that “the fact that some people were injured in other parts of the body, including the head, was a result of the movement of rioters, especially when they bend to pick up stones and other tools, from the ground, and in all cases this matter is under investigation.’’ It added that some protesters were shown on visual media outlets throwing petrol bombs filled with nails at the police forces. A UN statement said that, “according to reliable sources, at least four young men were shot at close range with rubber bullets, leading to severe and irreversible damage to their eyes.’’ During the weekend, more than 300 protesters and policemen were injured during clashes in central Beirut, among them at least two protesters who reportedly lost eyes due to rubber bullets. The ISF statement also denied reports alleging that policemen used rubber bullets designed to kill wild pigs against the protesters. Lebanon has been gripped by nationwide protests since October 17, leading to Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation.

Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed/Isaac Aregbesola

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