June 12 (UPI) -- Demonstrators poured into streets across Lebanon early Friday to protest a sharp decline in the national currency, blocking roads and setting fires to vehicles, authorities said.
There were protests overnight Thursday in Beirut and other cities, including Akkar, Tripoli, Tyre and Nabatieh. The demonstrations were the most widespread rallies to date over Lebanon's economic crisis.
More than 40 people were injured in Tripoli as bank branches were burned and demonstrators fought security forces.
The Lebanese pound once traded at about 1,500 to $1 for years but the value has sank to 5,000 to $1 in recent months.
The value of the Lebanese pound declined by 25 percent in two days to its lowest-ever point against the U.S. dollar, leading to widespread anger among citizens who blame the government for mismanaging the economic crisis.
"If politicians think they can burn our hearts like this the fire is going to reach them too," said Ali Qassem, an unemployed computer engineer.
In central Beirut, protesters set fires and blocked a main road while chanting slogans against sectarianism. Another demonstration along Lebanon's main highway stretched along the Mediterranean coast.
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who has been in office for about six months, called for an emergency cabinet meeting Friday to address the crisis. Demonstrations last fall led the resignation of then Prime Minister Saad Hariri.