A man armed with a shotgun is holding staff hostage at a bank in crisis-hit Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, threatening to set himself ablaze unless he receives his trapped savings, according to a security official.
The man entered a branch of the Federal Bank in Beirut’s bustling Hamra district on Thursday carrying a canister of petrol. He was holding six or seven bank employees hostage, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The man also fired three warning shots, the official said. Local media reported he has about $200,000 stuck in the bank.
Authorities were attempting to negotiate with the man, as army soldiers, police officers from the country’s Internal Security Forces, and intelligence agents surrounded the area.
The man’s brother, who was also on scene, told the Associated Press his brother was seeking to withdraw his money to pay for his father’s medical expenses and other family needs.
“My brother is not a scoundrel, he is a decent man,” Atef al-Sheikh Hussein told the news agency. “He takes what he has from his own pocket to give to others.”