Soldiers fired rubber bullets and live rounds in the air to disperse hundreds of protesters trying to march to the presidential palace during an anti-government demonstration.

An anti-government protester clashes with Lebanese soldiers in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.
An anti-government protester clashes with Lebanese soldiers in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (Bilal Hussein / AP)

Lebanese soldiers have fired rubber bullets and live rounds in the air to disperse hundreds of protesters trying to march to the presidential palace during an anti-government demonstration.

Protesters had called for the march on Saturday to the presidential palace in the suburb of Baabda to express their anger and call for accountability. 

Supporters of President Michel Aoun called for a counter-protest at the same location, adding to the tension.

Tension is high in Lebanon following last month's devastating explosion at Beirut's port that killed nearly 200 people, and after another mysterious and huge blaze at the same site on Thursday.

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a protest against the Lebanese President Michel Aoun.
Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a protest against the Lebanese President Michel Aoun. (Bilal Hussein / AP)

The August 4 explosion was caused by the detonation of nearly three thousand tons of ammonium nitrates that had been improperly stored at the port for years. 

More than five weeks later, it is still not clear what started the fire that ignited the chemicals, and no one has been held accountable so far.

READ MORE: Massive fire erupts in Beirut port a month after deadly blast

Supporters of Lebanese President Michel Aoun run to take a main road that links to the presidential palace before the arrival of the anti-government protesters.
Supporters of Lebanese President Michel Aoun run to take a main road that links to the presidential palace before the arrival of the anti-government protesters. (Bilal Hussein / AP)

The explosion, which created a massive shockwave that shattered glass and blasted windows, doors and injured 6,500 people, came on top of an unprecedented economic and financial crisis blamed on decades of corruption and mismanagement by the country's political class.

READ MORE: Hopes of miracle fade in search for Beirut blast survivor

Attempt to break security cordon

Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers separated the two camps. 

Later, as anti-Aoun protesters attempted to break a security cordon blocking their path on the highway leading to the palace, troops fired at first live rounds in the air, then rubber bullets, in an effort to disperse them.

A Lebanese army soldier uses his rifle to push back the anti-government protesters during a protest near the presidential palace in Beirut, Lebanon.
A Lebanese army soldier uses his rifle to push back the anti-government protesters during a protest near the presidential palace in Beirut, Lebanon. (Bilal Hussein / AP)

Some protesters threw stones and tree branches at the troops, injuring several of them. Some sat in the middle of the highway vowing to stay there. A group climbed on a sign post and hung ropes tied into nooses.

READ MORE: French spy chief pushes for Lebanese reforms

The public blames the corruption and negligence of Lebanon’s politicians, security and judicial officials, many of whom knew about the storage of the chemicals that exploded and did nothing.

Source: AP