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Gunman holds Beirut bank hostage and threatens to set himself on fire unless they hand over $200,000

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An enraged Lebanese man armed with a shogun holds bank employees hostage in Beirut and demands that they hand over $200,000 in his escrow account.

The gunman has threatened to set himself on fire and fired three warning shots at the Federal Bank in Beirut, where withdrawals are restricted due to the dire economic situation across the country.

The man was carrying a jerry can of petrol and is holding up to seven employees hostage in his attempt to access his money needed to pay his father’s hospital bills, it was alleged.

Despite the tense standoff, protesters have gathered in front of him, such is the public outrage against the banks during the financial collapse.

An armed man who demanded frozen deposits by his bank took an unspecified number of hostages

An armed man who demanded frozen deposits by his bank took an unspecified number of hostages

An armed man who demanded frozen deposits from his bank took an unspecified number of hostages

An armed man who demanded frozen deposits by his bank took an unspecified number of hostages

Lebanon's tight banks since late 2019 have introduced strict withdrawal limits for foreign currency assets

Lebanon's tight banks since late 2019 have introduced strict withdrawal limits for foreign currency assets

Lebanon’s tight banks since late 2019 have introduced strict withdrawal limits for foreign currency assets

An aggrieved Lebanese man (pictured) armed with a shogun holds bank employees hostage in Beirut and demands that they hand over $200,000 in his escrow account

An aggrieved Lebanese man (pictured) armed with a shogun holds bank employees hostage in Beirut and demands that they hand over $200,000 in his escrow account

An aggrieved Lebanese man (pictured) armed with a shogun holds bank employees hostage in Beirut and demands that they hand over $200,000 in his escrow account

The gunman threatened to set himself on fire and fired three warning shots at the Federal Bank in Beirut

The gunman threatened to set himself on fire and fired three warning shots at the Federal Bank in Beirut

The gunman threatened to set himself on fire and fired three warning shots at the Federal Bank in Beirut

The hostage situation has sparked protests in support of the gunman over people's anger against the banks

The hostage situation has sparked protests in support of the gunman over people's anger against the banks

The hostage situation has sparked protests in support of the gunman over people’s anger against the banks

A released hostage runs free from the bank after entrenching himself with other employees

A released hostage runs free from the bank after entrenching himself with other employees

A released hostage runs free from the bank after entrenching himself with other employees

“He demanded access to about $200,000 that he had in his bank account and when the employee refused the request, he started screaming that his relatives were in the hospital. Then he drew the gun,” a security source said.

Some customers in the bank managed to flee before closing its doors to the rest, said the source, who could not say how many customers or employees were in the branch.

At least one elderly man was released from the bank due to his age and government negotiators were deployed to begin talks with the hostage-taker, the interior ministry said.

Lebanon’s tight banks since late 2019 have introduced strict withdrawal limits on foreign currency assets, effectively evaporating the savings of many Lebanese.

Army soldiers and security forces stand guard outside a branch of the Federal Bank in the capital Beirut .  from Lebanon

Army soldiers and security forces stand guard outside a branch of the Federal Bank in the capital Beirut .  from Lebanon

Army soldiers and security forces stand guard outside a branch of the Federal Bank in the capital Beirut . from Lebanon

The Lebanese Red Cross told Reuters they had deployed an ambulance to the scene but had not treated anyone yet

The Lebanese Red Cross told Reuters they had deployed an ambulance to the scene but had not treated anyone yet

The Lebanese Red Cross told Reuters they had deployed an ambulance to the scene but had not treated anyone yet

Lebanese army soldiers, police officers from the country's internal security forces and intelligence agents have surrounded the area

Lebanese army soldiers, police officers from the country's internal security forces and intelligence agents have surrounded the area

Lebanese army soldiers, police officers from the country’s internal security forces and intelligence agents have surrounded the area

The country is currently suffering the worst economic crisis in its modern history, with three quarters of the population plunged into poverty and the value of the Lebanese pound has fallen by more than 90 percent against the US dollar.

Lebanese army soldiers, police officers from the country’s internal security forces and intelligence agents have surrounded the area.

The Lebanese Red Cross told Reuters they had deployed an ambulance to the scene but had not treated anyone yet.

A Reuters witness saw a bearded man in a black shirt behind the bank’s gate entrance talking to several plainclothes men on the outside.

“Let them give me my money back!” he heard them tell.

A crowd gathered outside the bank, many of them chanting, ‘Down with the rule of the banks!’

The man was carrying a petrol canister and is holding up to seven employees hostage

The man was carrying a petrol canister and is holding up to seven employees hostage

The man was carrying a petrol canister and is holding up to seven employees hostage

Officers are in talks with the gunman to reach a settlement, but so far they have not been successful.

Mobile video footage shows the disgruntled man demanding his money back with his shotgun.

In another video, two police officers behind the locked bank entrance asked the man to release at least one of the hostages, but he refused.

A customer at the bank who fled the building as the situation escalated told local media the man wanted to withdraw $2,000 to pay his hospitalized father’s medical bills.

In January, a coffee shop owner successfully recovered $50,000 trapped in a bank branch in eastern Lebanon after taking bank employees hostage and threatening to kill them.

Lebanon has not implemented formal capital controls since the start of the economic crisis.