A MAN armed with a shotgun stormed a bank in Lebanon today to take out £45,000 of his OWN savings as the country's economy collapses.
At least five banks were broken into on Friday by furious residents to demand the release of their frozen savings.
Lebanon has been facing economic turmoil for more than two years since the value of its currency began plummeting and banks started slapping draconian restrictions on withdrawals.
In the last week, seven bank branches have been hit by "depositor heists" – prompting lenders to announce a three-day shutdown, the Association of Banks in Lebanon said.
On Friday alone, there were three violent incidents in Beirut and two in south Lebanon.
A man armed with a shotgun stormed the branch of LGB Bank in Beirut's Ramlet el-Baida neighbourhood and reportedly demanded £45,000 from his savings account.
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The man was identified as Jawad Slim – a former contractor and a father-of-seven – who has been jobless for months.
Slim surrendered to police on Friday evening after eight hours after he was promised £13,000 in cash and £30,000 in cheques that he can deposit in another bank and withdraw.
In another incident, a man carrying a gun and jerrycan of fuel stormed a bank in the southern town of Ghaziyeh and called for staff to hand over his money.
He walked away with about £17,000 in cash – but turned himself in to the cops moments later as a crowd formed in front of the bank to support him.
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Hours later, chaos erupted in the Beirut neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jdideh after a man armed with a pistol reportedly demanded access to his trapped savings to pay off his debts.
The man – identified as Abed Soubra – is said to have been asking for £35,000 from his account for days.
In a southern Beirut suburb, Mohammed al-Moussawi told local Al-Jadeed TV he stormed a branch of Banque Libano-Française and got £18,000 of his money
He said he used a toy pistol to threaten bank staff, who gave him his money.
And in a town south of Beirut, a man demanded that his money be transferred to Turkey.
He was later detained after leaving the bank, and it wasn't clear it a deal was reached.
Last month, a man drew stormed a Beirut bank with a rifle and held employees and customers hostage for hours, to demand some of his $200,000 in frozen savings to pay hospital bills for his sick dad.
The attacks on the bank branches on Friday come two days after a woman armed with a toy gun broke into a bank branch to take $13,000 from her savings account.
She said the money would be used for her sister's cancer treatment.
Lebanon's currency has lost more than 90 per cent of its value on the black market in recent years – while poverty and unemployment have soared.
A protest group called Depositors' Outcry warned there would be more break-ins.
"This is a battle to liberate deposits," the group said.
As the incidents escalated on Friday, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi called for an emergency meeting.
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The economic turmoil has hit boiling point in recent months, with the Lebanese pound hit a new low on Friday.
The crisis had been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic and a massive blast at Beirut's port in August 2020 that killed more than 200, injured thousands and caused damage worth billions of dollars.
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