BEIRUT, Lebanon — A local official for a Lebanese political party was shot dead by soldiers trying to open a road closed by protesters in southern Beirut late Tuesday, the army reported, marking the first death in 27 days of nationwide protests.
An army statement said the man was shot in the Khaldeh neighborhood after an altercation during which a soldier opened fire to disperse the crowd, hitting one person. It said the army command had opened an investigation.
The killing was sure to inflame tensions already running high in the country, which has been engulfed by nationwide protests since Oct. 17. The leaderless, economically driven protests were triggered by new proposed taxes and have quickly evolved into the most sustained that Lebanon has seen in years.
The victim was identified as a local official with the Progressive Socialist Party headed by Walid Jumblatt, political leader of Lebanon’s Druze community. It was confirmed by the party’s Al-Anbaa newspaper.
Protesters had poured into the streets Tuesday night closing roads around Lebanon after President Michel Aoun said in a televised interview that there could be further delays before a new government is formed.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned his government Oct. 29 in response to the demonstrations. Protesters are demanding a government made up of technocrats that would address the worst economic and financial crisis Lebanon has confronted in decades.
Lebanon’s banking association said banks would remain closed because of a strike by employees. Banks were supposed to have reopened Tuesday following a three-day closure. Depositors have rushed to withdraw money in recent days amid the rapidly deteriorating economic and financial crisis.