Armed depositor storms Beirut bank, takes trapped savings

BEIRUT: An armed female depositor stormed a Blom Bank branch on Wednesday morning, and held employees as hostages as she demanded for her trapped savings be released so she can use them for her sister’s cancer treatment.

The woman, who forcibly closed the branch for an hour, managed to get her savings and fled. Various media reports pegged the amount from $13,000 to $20,000.

Earlier reports also claimed she was arrested by members of the General Security Authority, but some witness said the woman eventually left with cash in a plastic bag.

A report from The Associated Press said that she and the activists entered the BLOM Bank branch and stormed into the manager’s office.

“They doused gasoline everywhere inside, and took out a lighter and threatened to light it,” Nadine Nakhal, a customer at the bank, told The Associated Press. She said the armed woman threatened to shoot the manager if she did not receive her money.

The activists accompanying the woman were from a group called Depositors’ Outcry. Security forces standing outside arrested several of the activists, including a man carrying a handgun.



The bank’s branch, which has about 14 employees, is located at the Sodeco intersection, opposite the headquarters of the General Security Agency.

A Blom Bank official told Arab News that the bank’s employees refused to answer the calls.

The official explained that in front of each branch of the bank there is a guard, but he is not armed, and his task was limited to regulating the entry of people to the bank.

The depositor, identifying herself as Sali Hafiz, posted a live video on Facebook stating the reason why she stormed the bank.

Speaking to the camera, she said, “My name is Sali Hafiz, I’m here at the Blom Bank to take the deposits of my sister who is dying in the hospital. I’m not here to fight or cause chaos. I’m just here to get my rights back.”

She was seen on video demanding the rest of her money from the bank employees.

A statement from Lebanon’s depositors’ group have warned banks about ‘continuing to seize people’s money.

“We will not stand idly by as banks continue to seize our money,” the group said.

A social media post from the depositor, accompanying a picture of her sick sister said: “My life, I will bid farewell to you as you go for your treatment abroad and so you can come back healthy and raise your daughter. Even if it costs me my life. May God heal you, the dearest to my heart.”

The social media post has been widely shared across platforms.

with AP

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