Reuters International

A policeman stands outside the office of Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, after protesters attacked it in Beirut, Lebanon, April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Protesters attacked the Beirut office of Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat on Friday in response to a cartoon published by the paper criticising the Lebanese state.

The cartoon depicted the Lebanese flag with the words "an April fool..." written above it. Inside the flag were the words "the Lebanese state", which form a rhyming pair in Arabic.

Protesters entered the building and left papers and upturned chairs on the floor of the offices.

The cartoon and attack come amid political tensions between Riyadh and Beirut.

On Friday the Saudi-owned television news channel Al Arabiya shut its offices in Lebanon and dismissed 27 employees.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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