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Lebanese interior minister tells protesters attacks on state institutions won't be tolerated

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BEIRUT — Lebanon's interior minister warned protesters Wednesday against staging sit-ins or attacks targeting state institutions, saying such actions will no longer be tolerated.

Nohad Machnouk spoke a day after a group of protesters marched into the Environment Ministry in Beirut, occupying a floor of the building in a drawn-out standoff with security forces that lasted nine hours.

The protesters were demanding the resignation of the minister for his failure to deal with the country's mounting trash crisis. The government's failure to find a solution for the garbage after it closed the main landfill in July has sparked anger and protests that have gone beyond the garbage issue and now target the government and entire political class.

At a news conference, Machnouk defended the behavior of security forces during protests and said police will act decisively from now on if protesters do not respond to orders. Any future sit-ins will be dispersed "from the first moment, according to the law and using force if they do not respond," he said.

Also announcing the results of an investigation into excessive use of force by police during a protest Aug. 22, Machnouk said two police officers were referred to the Disciplinary Council and six officers will face disciplinary measures.

PHOTO: Lebanese anti-government protesters clash with riot policemen outside the Environment Ministry in support of activists staging a sit-in inside, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Lebanese security forces dragged a number of activists out of the Environment Ministry in downtown Beirut, where they were staging an hours-long sit-in on Tuesday demanding the minister's resignation over a trash crisis that has ignited mass protests. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Lebanese anti-government protesters clash with riot policemen outside the Environment Ministry in support of activists staging a sit-in inside, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Lebanese security forces dragged a number of activists out of the Environment Ministry in downtown Beirut, where they were staging an hours-long sit-in on Tuesday demanding the minister's resignation over a trash crisis that has ignited mass protests. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

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PHOTO: Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk speaks during a press conference at his office, at the interior ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. Machnouk said sit-ins and attacks targeting state institutions will no longer be tolerated. He spoke Wednesday, a day after a group of protesters marched into the Environment Ministry in Beirut, occupying a floor of the building in a drawn out standoff with security forces that lasted around nine hours. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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