Security forces fired tear gas and clashed with stone-throwing demonstrators Saturday in Beirut, and a group of protesters stormed the foreign ministry amid mounting fury over this week's explosion that devastated much of the city and killed nearly 160 people, the AP reports. Dozens were still missing and nearly 6,000 people injured. Activists who called for the protest set up symbolic nooses at Beirut's Martyrs' Square to hang politicians whose corruption and negligence they blame for Tuesday's blast. The explosion was fueled by thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate that had been improperly stored at the city's port for more than six years.
"Resignation or hang," read a banner held by protesters, who also planned to hold a symbolic funeral for the dead. Some nooses were also set up along the bridges outside the Port. In a televised speech Saturday evening, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the only solution was to hold early elections, which he planned to propose in a draft bill. The offer is unlikely to soothe the escalating fury on the street. In central Beirut, some protesters threw stones at security forces who responded with heavy tear gas. Near parliament, protesters tried to jump over barriers that closed the road leading to the legislature. The protesters later set on fire a truck that was fortifying barriers on a road leading to parliament. At least 142 people were said to be hurt in the clashes, and 32 were hospitalized. (See why residents blame "a failed state" for the blast.)