By Biodun Busari
Lebanese banks are planning to close financial operations for three days starting from Monday amid increasing demands by angry depositors for their savings.
Reuters reports that five banks were stormed by armed depositors on Friday.
Two bankers revealed that Lebanese banks would soon declare a three-day closure next week over growing security concerns.
Since late 2019, Lebanon’s commercial banks have enforced capital controls by setting withdrawal and transfer limits due to an economic crisis, which bars many people to pay for basics.
A security source told Reuters that a man with a gun (that turned out to be a toy) was arrested after holding up a Lebanese bank in the southern city of Ghazieh.
BLOM bank, a Lebanese bank, in a statement, said that an armed man entered its branch in Tariq al-Jdideh, Beirut’s neighbourhood, seeking his deposit.
However, the bank added that the situation was under control.
The man, identified as Abed Soubra, was hailed by a large crowd of people gathered outside — a scene that has played out in several such incidents.
“He’s a merchant and he’s in the right, and he could go to jail because people need money from him. What should he do? Go to jail because people need money from him while he has money in the bank?” a resident, Rabih Kojok, said from outside the bank.
In a third incident, a man armed with a pellet gun entered a branch of LGB bank in Beirut’s Ramlet al-Bayda area seeking to withdraw some $50,000 in savings, a bank employee said.
There are reports that Friday’s incidents followed two others in the capital of Beirut and another one in the town of Aley on Wednesday.
A woman who wanted cash for “hospital treatment for her cancer-stricken sister” wielded a gun and held some people as hostages at a branch of BLOM bank in Beirut and succeeded in leaving with more than $13,000 in cash from her account.
In Aley, Lebanon, another armed had entered a bank’s branch, BankMed, and retrieved some of his trapped savings before handing himself to authorities.