3 dead after bus lost control and rammed into bus stop on Jerusalem’s main road
Lebanon ‘hero’ hostage taker surrenders after bank drama
Onlookers give a hero’s salute to an armed client who held bank staff hostage for hours earlier today in Lebanon because he was unable to access funds frozen after the country’s economic collapse.
The suspect, identified only as Bassam, was armed with a rifle and doused the inside of the gas bank, according to security sources.
But after eight hours, the incident ended peacefully.
“Bassam you are a hero!” jubilant passers-by chanted outside the bank.
The incident was the latest involving local banks and angry depositors unable to access savings stuck in Lebanese banks since the country’s economic crisis began in 2019.
State media say the suspect turned himself in when the bank agreed to give him $30,000 of his more than $200,000 in trapped savings.
“Employees taken hostage have also started to leave the bank,” the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA) said.
An AFP correspondent at the scene saw hostages and the suspect being escorted in police cars from the Federal Bank branch where the tragedy took place, near the West Beirut shopping center on Hamra Street.
Protesters at the scene had chanted “down with the rule of the banks”, while others took to social media to express their support for the shaggy-bearded suspect wearing shorts and flip flops.
Local residents say the incident began around 10:30 a.m. (0730 GMT).
The man had “a shotgun and flammable material, and threatened employees to give him his savings,” a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Another security source said a man in his 40s “poured gasoline all over the bank and closed the bank’s front door, holding the employees hostage.”
He demanded savings worth more than $200,000, according to the source.
The man “threatened to set himself on fire and kill everyone in the branch, pointing his gun in the face of the bank manager”, says the NNA.
He said he stormed into the bank because his father ‘was admitted to hospital some time ago for an operation and couldn’t afford it’, reports the NNA.