A Lebanese man has been hailed as a national hero after robbing a bank of his own money.
Authorities say Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein entered a bank in Beirut on Thursday (11 August) with a shotgun and a can of petrol, threatening to set himself on fire if staff wouldn't allow him to withdraw his own money.
Officials claim that the 42-year-old bank robber fired some warning shots and took a number of hostages, triggering a six hour siege.
Hussein had around £171,000 in his account which he reportedly needed to access in order to pay for his father's medical bills.
Nobody was injured during the siege, which ended after Hussein was allowed to withdraw a chunk of his savings just as he'd wanted to do all along.
All hostages were then released and the 42-year-old who robbed his own money from the bank surrendered himself to the police without a struggle.
During the siege, a crowd of protesters gathered chanting 'down with the rule of the banks' and later shouted that Hussein was a Lebanese national hero for going to such drastic levels to access his own money.
Lebanon is suffering through its worst economic crisis in modern history following a financial collapse in 2019.
Banks are running low on cash to issue to people, leading them to place strict limits on the amount of money people can withdraw.
The Lebanese pound has also dropped 90 percent in value against the US dollar.
The result has left millions of people stuck and unable to access the majority of their money, with three quarters of the country's population plunged into poverty.
Only in #Lebanon: People head to protest in front of a local bank where a depositor is holding other people and bank employees hostages while demanding his money, because banks in Lebanon stope our money and now dictate how much we take our per week/month. https://t.co/LExfGav14p— Luna Safwan - لونا صفوان (@LunaSafwan) August 11, 2022
Among the crowd of protestors who gathered outside the bank was Dina Abou Zor, a lawyer with the advocacy group Depositors’ Union.
She said: "What led us to this situation is the state’s failure to resolve this economic crisis and the banks’ and Central Bank’s actions, where people can only retrieve some of their own money as if it’s a weekly allowance.
"And this has led to people taking matters into their own hands."
If someone robbing a bank to steal their own money isn't a sign that things are in a dire state, then it's hard to know what is.
This isn't even the first time it's happened. In January, a coffee shop owner in Lebanon managed to withdraw more than £40,000 after holding bank staff hostage.
Whether the 42-year-old will be charged or be allowed to keep any of his own money that he robbed from the bank, remains to be seen.
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