Lebanese budget protesters blasted with water cannons

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese security forces have opened heavy water cannons on anti-austerity protests in the capital city, as the government faces a looming fiscal crisis.

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session to reach agreement on controversial budget cuts.

Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building,

The government’s planned budget cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

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Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers. Lebanon’s economy is struggling with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance.

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