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Fiery clashes plunge Lebanon into crisis

Fiery clashes erupted in Lebanon as thousands took the streets in anger over a dire economy.

It's one of the biggest protests the country has felt in years.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER SAYING:

"We are all poor and we are asking for jobs, for our rights, electricity, water, we are demanding education, one is begging to teach his son... We want to live in dignity."

Calls for a revolution echoed through major cities.

It's the second time in less than a month that countrywide demonstrations have broken out - over the government's handling of an economic crisis.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER SAYING:

"We don't have enough to eat anymore. Why are you making us pay more while you sit in your positions, not caring? The people are dying, we want our rights. We won't leave the streets before we take our rights."

Lebanon is one of the world's most heavily indebted states.

And the government is seeking new ways to narrow its gaping deficit, including a so-called WhatsApp fee.

It would have seen users have to pay to use internet phone calls.

The government agreed to axe those plans after protesters blocked roads and clashed with police.

But the people out there say this is just the beginning.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE PROTESTER, ABDALLLAH, SAYING:

"We are staying on the streets, we are going tomorrow and after tomorrow and after this. We are not just here over WhatsApp, we are here over everything: over fuel, food, bread, over everything."

Public employees have declared a strike so they can join the protests, as demonstrations spread across the country.