Banks in Lebanon have implemented informal capital controls amid the ongoing economic crisis, effectively freezing savings.
(Al Jazeera) – A hostage standoff in which a gunman demanded a Beirut bank let him withdraw his trapped savings has ended with the man’s surrender and no injuries.
Authorities say 42-year-old Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein entered the Federal Bank in Beirut’s bustling Hamra district with a shotgun and a canister of gasoline and threatened to set himself on fire unless he was allowed to take out his money.
After hours of negotiations, he accepted an offer from the bank to receive part of his savings, according to local media and a depositors group that took part in the talks. He then released his hostages and surrendered.
He did not actually receive any of the money, according to a lawyer who took part in the negotiations.
His wife, Mariam Chehadi, who was standing outside, told reporters after his arrest that her husband “did what he had to do”.
Hussein was holding at least six bank employees hostage, according to an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations earlier on Thursday.
He had fired three warning shots, according to the official. Local media reported he has about $200,000 stuck in the bank.