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HomeNewsHostage standoff at Beirut financial institution ends with gunman's arrest

Hostage standoff at Beirut financial institution ends with gunman’s arrest

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BEIRUT — A gunman demanding a Beirut financial institution let him withdraw his trapped financial savings to pay his father’s medical payments took as much as 10 individuals hostage in a seven-hour standoff Thursday earlier than surrendering in alternate for what a household lawyer stated was $35,000 of his cash.

Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, a 42-year-old food-delivery driver, was promptly arrested and brought away by police as he walked out of the financial institution. Nobody was injured.

Hussein’s spouse, Mariam Chehadi, who was standing exterior, informed reporters that her husband “did what he needed to do.”

The hostage drama within the metropolis’s bustling Hamra district was the most recent painful episode in Lebanon’s financial free-fall, now in its third yr. The nation’s cash-strapped banks since 2019 have slapped strict limits on withdrawals of overseas forex belongings, tying up the financial savings of tens of millions of individuals.

Dozens of protesters gathered exterior in the course of the standoff, chanting slogans in opposition to the Lebanese authorities and banks and hoping that the gunman would get his cash. Some bystanders hailed him as a hero.

Authorities stated Hussein entered the financial institution with a shotgun and a canister of gasoline, fired three warning photographs and locked himself in together with his hostages, threatening to set himself on fireplace except he was allowed to take out his cash.

Hussein had $210,000 trapped in Federal Financial institution and had been struggling to withdraw his cash to pay his father’s medical payments and different bills, in response to the household and others concerned within the negotiations.

“My brother shouldn’t be a scoundrel. He’s an honest man. He takes what he has from his personal pocket to present to others,” Hussein’s brother Atef, standing exterior the financial institution, stated in the course of the standoff.

After hours of negotiations, Hussein accepted a proposal for a part of his financial savings, and the financial institution handed over $35,000 to his brother, in response to Dina Abou Zour, a lawyer and activist representing the Hussein household.

Federal Financial institution lawyer Roy Madkour refused to debate the phrases of the negotiations and added: “The matter now rests with the judiciary, and they’ll resolve.”

Lebanese troopers, officers from the nation’s Inside Safety Forces and intelligence brokers converged on the realm in the course of the standoff. Seven or eight financial institution workers have been taken hostage together with two prospects, George al-Haj, head of the Financial institution Workers Syndicate, informed native media.

Lebanon is affected by the worst financial disaster in its trendy historical past. Three-quarters of the inhabitants has plunged into poverty, and the Lebanese pound has declined in worth by greater than 90% in opposition to the U.S. greenback.

“What led us to this example is the state’s failure to resolve this financial disaster and the banks’ and Central Financial institution’s actions, the place individuals can solely retrieve a few of their very own cash as if it’s a weekly allowance,” stated Abou Zour, who’s with the authorized advocacy group the Depositors’ Union and was among the many protesters. “And this has led to individuals taking issues into their very own palms.”

In January, a espresso store proprietor withdrew $50,000 trapped in a financial institution in Lebanon after taking workers hostage and threatening to kill them.



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