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Public support man who held Beirut bank hostage for a ‘reason’

Public support man who held Beirut bank hostage for a ‘reason’

Public support man who held Beirut bank hostage for a ‘reason’

Public support man who held Beirut bank hostage for a ‘reason’

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  • Lebanon’s banks have imposed stringent restrictions on the amount of cash that can be withdrawn.
  • Armed man held a bank hostage for more than six hours in Beirut.
  • His actions garnered public support, as cheering crowds gathered outside and chanted You’re a hero!”.
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The public has hailed as a hero an armed man who held a bank hostage for more than six hours in Beirut because he was unable to withdraw savings.

In the midst of a severe economic crisis, Lebanon’s banks have imposed stringent restrictions on the amount of cash that can be withdrawn.

According to AFP, the suspect entered the bank with a firearm, poured gasoline on the floor, and demanded money for medical expenses.

His actions garnered public support, as cheering crowds gathered outside and chanted “You’re a hero!”

LBC TV channel reported that the standoff ended peacefully with no injuries after negotiators reached an agreement allowing the suspect to receive $35,000 (£29,000) of his savings in advance.

West of the city, police escorted the hostages and suspect away from the Federal Bank branch near Hamra Street. Officials have not yet determined whether the suspect will be charged.

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According to LBC, members of the suspect’s family were hospitalised and desperately needed their savings.

The brother of the suspect told journalists, “My brother has $210,000 in the bank and wants to get just $5,500 to pay hospital bills.”

And his wife and brother, who were standing outside the bank, stated that that “everybody should do the same” to obtain what is “rightfully theirs.”

The 2019 implementation of stringent controls on people’s bank accounts has sparked widespread outrage in Lebanon. There are also restrictions on international money transfers.

The country is in the midst of one of the world’s most severe economic crises in modern history, and its effects are intensifying as the cost of living soars and wheat and medicine become scarce.

Outside the branch, protesters chanted “Down with the rule of the banks”.

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“Similar incidents keep happening,” George al-Hajj, head of the bank employees’ union in Lebanon, told AFP. In a separate incident in January, an enraged customer seized dozens of hostages at a bank in the Bekaa valley and demanded the ability to withdraw his funds in US dollars.

“Depositors want their money, and unfortunately their anger explodes in the face of bank employees because they cannot reach the management,” he added.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the value of the local currency in Lebanon has decreased by more than 90 percent, and the United Nations reports that four fifths of the population lives in poverty.

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