Federal Bureau of Investigation will join Beirut blast probe, USA diplomat says in Lebanon

Henrietta Strickland
August 14, 2020

Lebanon's parliament on Thursday gave the green light to impose a two-week state of emergency amid ongoing street protests.

The FBI will join Lebanese and global investigators in a probe into last week's massive Beirut explosion that killed at least 172 people, a senior USA diplomat said on Thursday.

The state of emergency will now be in force until August 21.

Roads to the UNESCO Palace on the outskirts of Beirut - an earlier venue where parliament met during the coronavirus pandemic - were blocked with metal gates ahead of the protest.

According to Lebanese law, the government can only issue a state of emergency for eight days, while the hemicycle must approve its extension for longer periods.

"The FBI will soon join Lebanese and global investigators, at the invitation of the Lebanese, in order to help answer questions that I know everyone has about the circumstances that led up to this explosion", David Hale told reporters during a tour of a heavily damaged neighbourhood near the port. French Defense Minister Florence Parly is also expected to attend.

It is noteworthy that the Lebanese army shared the mechanism of transparently distributing aid received by the country with foreign diplomats following accusations of corruption against the country's rulers by social media activists and demonstrators who organized protests in Beirut.

"They are all criminals, they are the ones who caused this catastrophe, this explosion", Reuters cited Lina Boubess, a 60-year-old protester who was trying to reach the palace, as saying.

The government has said it will hold to account those responsible for improperly storing a stockpile of the explosive ammonium nitrate for six years at Beirut's port.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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