Most recent: At 17.20 this afternoon, an eyewitness reported to Reuters that the man must have left the bank and the hostage situation is over.
The 42-year-old fired three warning shots with a rifle inside the bank building in Beirut’s busy Hamra district. It is also equipped with a gas jug and should have full gas around the room.
Pictures show the man holding what appears to be a pump-action rifle.
The man is said to have entered the Lebanese Federal Bank in Hamra before 12 noon on Thursday
– No thugs
According to Al Jazeera, the man threatened to set himself on fire if he did not pay him his money.
Security sources say he is holding seven or eight employees and clients hostage in the building. A bank customer, who fled the building, told local media that the man demanded $2,000 to be able to pay for the drug to his father, who is in the hospital.
According to the Associated Press, the man’s brother was said to have been at the scene.
– My brother is not a fraud. He is a decent man. He takes what is in his pockets and gives to others, his brother Atef Al-Sheikh tells the news agency.
According to Lebanese media, the man has about 200 thousand dollars in his bank account, but Lebanon is in the midst of an endless economic crisis, and since 2019 Lebanese banks have imposed strict restrictions on the withdrawal of foreign currencies. About 80 percent of the population now lives below the poverty line.
Large security forces surrounded the bank headquarters and tried to persuade the man to surrender, or at least release some of the hostages, but he refused so far.
A large number of demonstrators gathered around the crime scene and chanted slogans against the government and the banking system. Some passers-by are even calling the 42-year-old a hero.
In January, a cafe owner took several bank employees hostage and threatened to kill them. He ended up withdrawing $50,000.
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