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Lebanon: Inmates set fires in amnesty bid amid pandemic

Prisoners burn mattresses in cells to press government to grant general amnesty

Mahmut Geldi   | 08.04.2020
Lebanon: Inmates set fires in amnesty bid amid pandemic Security forces set up check points at streets a state of emergency declared due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in Beirut, Lebanon on March 22, 2020. ( Hussam Chbaro - Anadolu Agency )

BEIRUT, Lebanon

Inmates at Qubbah prison in Tripoli, Lebanon set fire to the mattresses in their cells Tuesday to draw attention to the government’s inaction over issuing a general amnesty amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

While the fires were brought under control by civil defense units, relatives of the prisoners gathered in front of the prison and chanted slogans but later got into a brawl with security forces.

The Lebanese army said in a statement that the relatives of inmates along with other people attacked security forces with stones.

As a result, 13 soldiers were injured, including one officer, the statement said, adding security forces tasked with the protection and monitoring of prisoners are working to resolve the issue.

The incident occurred as the country's health ministry announced that the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Lebanon had risen to 548 since the virus was first detected on Feb. 21, with the death toll at 19.

After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the virus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 184 countries and regions, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

The data shows more than 1.42 million cases have been reported worldwide with the death toll more than 82,000 and over 300,700 recoveries.

*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara

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