International

Gunman hailed hero for holding up bank over savings

The public has praised an armed guy who held a bank in Beirut hostage for more than six hours so that he could withdraw his funds.

In the midst of a severe economic crisis, banks in Lebanon have tightened the restrictions on how much money people can access.

According to AFP, the suspect entered the bank brandishing a weapon, spilled gasoline, and demanded payment for medical expenses.

His deeds won over the public, resulting in cheering throngs assembling outside and yelling, “You are a hero.”

After mediators reached a deal allowing the suspect to get $35,000 (£29,000) of his money upfront, the stand-off eventually came to a calm conclusion without any injuries, according to LBC TV channel.

West of the city, at Hamra Street, police led the suspect and hostages out of the Federal Bank branch. It is unknown at this time whether the man will be charged.

The suspect’s family, some of whom were in hospitals, was in desperate need of their cash, according to LBC.

“My brother has $210,000 in the bank and wants to get merely $5,500 to cover hospital bills,” the suspect’s brother told reporters.

Outside the bank, his wife and brother declared that “everyone should do the same” in order to obtain what is “rightfully theirs.”

The severe controls over people’s bank accounts that went into effect in 2019 have caused widespread rage in Lebanon. Additionally, there are limitations on international money transactions.

The nation is experiencing one of the most severe economic crises in modern history, and its effects are becoming more acute as the cost of living skyrockets and there are food and medical shortages.

“Down with the rule of the banks,” demonstrators had chanted outside the branch.

George al-Hajj, the chairman of the union representing bank employees in Lebanon, told AFP that “similar occurrences keep recurring.” In a different incident in January, a disgruntled client held a bank in the Bekaa valley hostage and demanded to be able to withdraw his money in US dollars.

Because they can’t get through to management, he continued, “Depositors want their money, and unfortunately their frustration explodes in the face of bank personnel.”

Since the start of the crisis, Lebanon’s native currency has lost more than 90% of its value, and the UN estimates that 4/5 of the population is living in poverty.

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