Two people in Lebanon held up two different banks on Wednesday as they demanded to withdraw their own money.
In the first incident, a woman armed with a gun held up a BLOM bank branch in the capital Beirut, according to various media reports. She was accompanied by activists and said her gun was a toy, according to the Associated Press, citing local Al-Jadeed TV.
The woman was able to withdraw $13,000 of her deposits, which were $20,000, according to the AP. She said she needed funds for her sister’s cancer treatment and repeatedly went to the bank to withdraw her own money, only to be told she could only get $200 a month.
“I had already begged the branch manager for my money and told him that my sister was dying, that there was not much time left,” she said in an interview, according to the AP agency. “I reached a point where I had nothing to lose.
She said she even considered selling her kidney so her sister could receive treatment.
Shortly after the first incident, an armed man held up a Bankmed branch in Aley, a mountain town in southeastern Lebanon, Reuters reported, citing a depositor advocacy group and a security source. The man got part of his savings from the account.
Lebanon has been in an economic crisis since 2019 due to government mismanagement. To prevent capital flight, banks there have limited the amount of money people can withdraw from their bank accounts, which has a serious impact on the daily lives of ordinary citizens.
In August, a gunman held employees and customers of a Lebanese bank hostage after being told he could not withdraw $200,000 from his bank account to treat his ailing father. The man was cheered by the crowd outside the bank.
A senior Lebanese banker told Reuters the incidents could prompt copycats.
“I think it’s a challenge to other people to do the same. As long as people can get away with it, they will continue,” the banker told the news agency on condition of anonymity.