Hundreds of protesters blocked major highways in Lebanon Friday, October 18, after thousands angry at proposed tax increases thronged the streets overnight demanding the government's resignation in the largest demonstrations in years.

Protesters burned tires on highways and intersections in suburbs of the capital, Beirut, and in northern and southern cities, sending up clouds of black smoke in scattered protests. The protests could plunge Lebanon into a political crisis with unpredictable repercussions for the economy, which has been in steady decline.

The National News Agency (NNA) said two foreign workers choked to death early Friday after they were trapped in a building set alight by rioters. Some reports said the two men were Syrians.

So far at least 23 protesters, according to the Red Cross, and 60 security force personnel, according to police, have been injured.

Banks, state institutions, schools and universities were closed Friday as the demonstrations spread throughout the country. (AFP)

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