In Lebanon, a gunman held some people hostage in a bank

In Lebanon, a gunman held some people hostage in a bank

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Around noon on Thursday, a gunman entered a bank branch in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, where he barricaded himself and took some people hostage, demanding that they withdraw a large sum of money to pay for the father’s medical expenses. At the beginning of the evening the situation was clarified and the man, Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, constituted himself voluntarily. In the meantime, however, a group of people had gathered in front of the bank and, despite the rather agitated situation, had started to demonstrate for him.

In fact, for some time now, due to the severe economic crisis, Lebanese banks have blocked a large part of people’s savings and severely restricted citizens’ cash withdrawals, making it quite difficult to cope with daily expenses.

The 42-year-old man had entered the bank’s headquarters to ask to withdraw some of his savings, which amounted to $210,000, just over 200,000 euros (the weakness of the currency in the early 1990s). The Lebanese had pushed the government into a firm peg to the dollar). When the bank employees refused to proceed with the withdrawal, the man began screaming after initial reconstructions, then pulled out the rifle he had brought and even threatened to set himself on fire. Some of the bank’s customers managed to escape, but six hostages, five employees and a customer remained on the premises.

The manager of the branch, overheard by Portal on the phone, said the man “wobbled and then calmed down, then wobbled again.” According to information from the Lebanese television channel Al-Jadeed, he fired at least two shots.

After about seven hours, the bank finally agreed to deliver about $30,000 to the man, who turned himself in to police.

Throughout the afternoon, along with the police, journalists and some soldiers, a few dozen people gathered in front of the bank and began to positively comment on his gesture. In Lebanon, many savers can withdraw just $200 of their savings a month, plus a local currency nicknamed “Lollaro,” which is worth much less. For example, one of the protesters who demonstrated for the man said that he “only asks for what is his”; Another added that “desperate people do desperate things. We are all like him. The soldiers and the riot police also appreciated that.”

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