A Lebanese security official says a man armed with a firearm broke into a Beirut bank, took employees hostage and threatened to fire himself with gasoline unless he retrieved his trapped savings. will put
Beirut – A Lebanese man armed with a shotgun took employees hostage at a Beirut bank on Thursday and threatened to set himself on fire with gasoline unless he found his trapped savings, a security official said.
The man who entered a Federal Bank branch in Beirut’s bustling Hamara district was carrying a canister of gasoline and took six or seven bank employees hostage, according to rules, the official said. Spoke on condition.
The officer said the man also fired three warning shots. Local media reported that he had about $200,000 stuck in the bank.
Lebanese cash-strapped banks have imposed strict withdrawal limits on foreign currency assets since late 2019, effectively evaporating the savings of many Lebanese. The country is today grappling with the worst economic crisis in its modern history, with three-quarters of the population plunging into poverty, and the Lebanese pound losing more than 90% in value against the US dollar.
Lebanese army personnel, police officers from the country’s internal security forces and intelligence agents have cordoned off the area. Officials are talking to the armed man to negotiate a settlement, but have so far been unsuccessful.
Cellphone video footage shows the disgruntled man asking for his money back with his firearm. In another video, two police officers behind a closed bank entrance asked the man to release at least one hostage, but he refused.
In January, a coffee shop owner successfully retrieved $50,000 trapped in a bank branch in eastern Lebanon by taking bank staff hostage and threatening to kill them.
Lebanon has not yet implemented formal capital controls since the start of the economic crisis.