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Armed men hold Beirut bank hostage to demand return of frozen funds

(CNN)On Thursday,an armed man and an employee at a bank on busy Hamra Street in BeirutSecurity sources holding customers hostage andLebanese state news agencydemanded that his frozen funds be released.

Security sources say negotiations are underway to persuade the hostage takers to resign. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity due to professional norms. They are demanding that the bank be refunded from their accounts, set the bank on fire, and threaten to kill everyone in the bank. A man seen on social media videos brandishing an assault rifle claims the bank will give him $209,000 from his frozen account. A man could be heard screaming in a social media video recorded from the bank. "I don't have much time."

The bearded hostage taker is seen nervously walking around the bank cursing out the hostages.

Thousands of people gathered outside the bank to demand the return of the funds to the person the bank held hostage, and the incident has left Lebanon in the midst of the country's financial crisis. highlighted the despair of depositors in Many of the hostage-taking supporters chanted anti-government slogans.

Since the start of Lebanon's financial crisis in October 2019, the country's banking sector has imposed discretionary capital controls, severely limiting people's access to their savings. increase.

According to the NNA, Hassan Mughniyeh, president of the Lebanese Depositors Association, entered the bank to negotiate the release of the hostages, but the man fired two stray bullets at him.

"Lebanese political authorities and banking institutions bear responsibility for the situation," Mughniyeh said, according to the NNA. ``If we don't act quickly, things will get worse.''

Lebanon's economic crisis in 2019 has pushed more than three-quarters of the population into poverty, and the local currency has fallen below its value in October 2019. Lost more than 90%.