Beirut, Lebanon – Hundreds of mourners in Tripoli on Thursday attended the funeral of Omar Tayba, who was wounded during Wednesday evening’s protests and riots in the city that were fuelled by anger over harsh living conditions.
More than 220 people were injured on Wednesday evening, which marked the third consecutive night of protests.
Several of those people were injured when security forces opened fire on a group of protesters throwing stones in the city’s Al Nour Square.
Tayba was brought to Nini Hospital around 9:40pm (19:40 GMT) in “very critical condition” having been “shot in the lower back”, the hospital said in a statement which added that he underwent emergency surgery but died of his wounds on Thursday morning.
Later on Thursday, a second protester died from wounds sustained during the crackdown by security forces, the city’s mayor Riad Yamak told Al Jazeera.
In a widely shared video, an unidentified protester said the riots were taking place after the failure by authorities to address long-standing grievances and demands for simple necessities including electricity and education.
“You tell me why I throw a stone when you blew up Beirut. You’re holding me accountable for a rock?” he said, referring to the Beirut blast in August last year that killed more than 200 people and injured over 6,000 as well as destroying a large part of the city near the port.
“If you besiege someone from all sides, they will lash out… we have no way left to express ourselves other than throwing rocks.”
On Wednesday, Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) said it was “forced to defend our centres with all legitimate means” amid riots near the city’s Serail, an official building.
The ISF tweeted it would deal “with the attackers with severity and firmness, using all available means in accordance with the law” and added later that two grenades thrown at its officers injured nine.
Since protests began on Monday, more than 300 people have been injured.
The recent protests were sparked by a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown implemented without the provision of aid in a country where more than 50 percent of the people fall under the poverty line.
Tripoli was a central part of an uprising in the country in October 2019 that sought to remove political leaders, many of whom have been in power for decades.
Those officials led the country into an unprecedented economic and financial crisis that has seen tens of thousands lose their jobs as the local currency lost 80 percent of its value.
The World Bank has described Lebanon’s crisis as a “deliberate depression” resulting from the inaction and mismanagement of the country’s political and financial authorities.
Tripoli is the country’s second-most-populous city and the poorest despite being the home of several of the country’s wealthy politicians, including billionaire former Prime Minister Najib Mikati and his brother, Taha.