Assailants attacked several protest camps in north and south Lebanon early on Tuesday, according to state-run media, demolishing tents and burning down others as anger boiled over in the capital following a video deemed offensive to the country’s Shiites.
The violence — apparently carried out by Hezbollah supporters and their allies — threatened to plunge Lebanon further into chaos amid two months of anti-government protests and a spiraling financial crisis.
In Beirut, charred remains of several torched cars were scattered on a main highway while faint smoke smoldered from a fire set in a building overlooking the epicenter of two-month-old protests after a night of rage by supporters of Lebanon’s two main Shiite groups, Hezbollah and Amal.
It was the third consecutive night of violence in Lebanon, coming after the Lebanese president on Monday postponed talks on naming a new prime minister, further prolonging the unrest in the Mediterranean country.
The violence was fueled by an undated video circulating online of a man, said to be living somewhere in Europe but otherwise from Lebanon’s majority Sunni city of Tripoli, railing against Shiite politicians, religious figures and others. It was unclear what the link was between the video and the attacks on the protest camps.
Supporters of the militant Hezbollah group and the Amal movement, angered by protesters’ criticism of their leaders, have tried to attack the protest camps for days. Late on Monday, hundreds of angry men, apparently supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, which is led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, descended on the camp in central Beirut.
They clashed for hours with security forces guarding the camp.