A furious Lebanese man armed with a shogun is holding bank staff hostage in Beirut demanding they hand over $200,000 in his frozen account.
According to Mail Online, the gunman has threatened to set himself ablaze and has fired three warning shots at the Federal Bank in Beirut, where withdrawal limits are in place due to the country’s economic meltdown.
The man was carrying a canister of gasoline and is holding up to seven employees hostage in a bid to get all his money which he reportedly needs to pay for his father’s hospital bills.
‘He demanded access to around $200,000 he had in his bank account and when the employee refused the request, he began screaming that his relatives were in the hospital. Then he pulled out the gun,’ a security source said.
??????? Hostage situation at a major bank in #Beirut, #Lebanon. An armed Hezbollah supporter is holding bank staff until they pay him $210,000 he claims is his own deposit! pic.twitter.com/ducT0ipXt9
— Terror Alarm (@terror_alarm) August 11, 2022
What happens when the government and the banks take your money? The central bank robbed 4 million Lebanese.
This man – with a flammable liquid & a firearm – entered the Federal Bank in #Beirut, took the staff hostages, demanding
• his money back
• an ambulance
• a fire truck pic.twitter.com/rJWz1Ed1zk
— Sooly?????? (@Sooly_Kobayashi) August 11, 2022
The source said some customers in the bank managed to flee before he shut the doors on the rest.
At least one elderly man was released from the bank because of his age and government negotiators were deployed to begin talks with the hostage taker, the interior ministry said.
Lebanon’s cash-strapped banks since late 2019 have implemented strict withdrawal limits on foreign currency assets, effectively evaporating the savings of many Lebanese.
The country today is suffering from the worst economic crisis in its modern history, where three-quarters of the population have plunged into poverty, and the value of the Lebanese pound has declined by over 90 per cent against the U.S. dollar.
Lebanese army soldiers, police officers from the country’s Internal Security Forces, and intelligence agents have surrounded the area.
The Lebanese Red Cross told Reuters that they had deployed an ambulance on site but had yet to treat anyone.
‘Let them give me back my money!’ the he was heard telling them.
A crowd gathered outside the bank, many of them chanting, ‘Down with the rule of the banks!’
Officers are talking to the armed man to reach a settlement, but have so far been unsuccessful.
A customer at the bank who fled the building as the situation escalated, told local media that the man was demanding to withdraw $2,000 dollars to pay for his hospitalised fathers medical bills, but they refused.
In January, a coffee shop owner successfully withdrew $50,000 trapped in a bank branch in eastern Lebanon after holding bank staff hostage, and threatening to kill them.
Lebanon has yet to implement formal capital controls since the onset of the economic crisis.