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Journalists injured in clashes between Lebanese forces and protesters

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Image: LEBANON-POLITICS-PROTESTS
Riot police gather in a street, blocked by Lebanese anti-government protesters, following a gathering to demand the release of detainees who were arrested overnight, in the capital Beirut on Jan. 15, 2020.   -  
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Anwar Amro
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Multiple journalists were injured by Lebanese security forces Wednesday after continued protests in Beirut turned violent as residents continue to demonstrate against the country's government.

Reuters, along with Lebanese broadcasters Al Jadeed and MTV, all said security forces injured cameramen working for them. Local Lebanese journalists also said on social media they were being targeted by security forcesduring the street clashes.

Demonstrations transformed into riots Tuesday after anti-government protesters began vandalizing banks and security forces began arresting a number of people in the city's Hamra neighborhood. The violent clashes Wednesday erupted after Lebanese security forces attempted to disperse protesters who demanded the release of those arrested the previous night.

Reuters confirmed to NBC News that a cameraman was injured while covering the protests in Beirut, though they did not release his name.

"He was treated in hospital and released," Reuters said. "The wellbeing of our journalists is of paramount importance, so we are concerned by this news and are seeking answers from the local authorities."

The country's internal security forces did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Lebanese Interior Minister Raya El Hassan denounced the violence and implored protesters to remain peaceful in a statement, according to Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International.

"We do not accept the attack of journalists who are doing their duty to cover events and developments, nor do we accept the attack of security forces which are maintaining security," El Hassan said, according to LBCI.

The demonstrations that began to sweep across Lebanon in October died down the past few weeks, but have been renewed in recent days. Lebanese citizens from across sectarian divides came together in a rare display in unity late last year after proposed tax hikes enraged an already struggling populace.

After officials reneged on the proposed tax hikes, protesters focused their anger on what they have characterized as a corrupt government that has mishandled the country's economy for years.

Banks began limiting access to funds in October, which in part prompted the protesters' attack on the banks Tuesday night. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation in October, but the country has yet to agree on an economic plan or a new government.

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