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Lebanese protesters set fire to roadways and clashed with security forces in a second night of unrest on Friday, despite a government pledge to inject dollars into the market to bolster the sagging currency.

Protests erupted on Thursday in several Lebanese cities after a crash in the pound currency, which has lost about 70% of its value since October, when Lebanon was plunged into a financial crisis that has brought mounting hardship.

The pound appeared to halt its slide on Friday after a government announcement that the central bank would inject dollars into the market on Monday.

Protesters, however, returned later on Friday for a second night, throwing fireworks and stones at security forces in central Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli, prompting them to spray tear gas and rubber bullets to push them back.

A member of the Lebanese security forces walks toward rubbish containers set ablaze by anti-government protesters, during a demonstration against dire economic conditions, under the Fuad Shehab bridge known as the Ring, in the capital Beirut, late on June 12, 2020. – The Lebanese pound sank to a record low on the black market on June 11 despite the authorities’ attempts to halt the plunge of the crisis-hit country’s currency, money changers said. Lebanon is in the grips of its worst economic turmoil in decades, and holding talks with the International Monetary Fund towards securing billions in aid to help overcome it. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP)

The unrest comes as Beirut holds talks with the International Monetary Fund for a reform programme it hopes will secure billions of dollars in financing and put its economy back on track.

The crisis, rooted in decades of corruption and waste, has brought soaring food prices, unemployment and capital controls that have severed Lebanese from their hard currency savings. 

The country enforced a lockdown in mid-March to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, limiting the country’s Covid-19 death toll to just 31 but dealing a further blow to businesses.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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