A Lebanese woman on Wednesday held up a Beirut bank with a toy gun and collected $13,000 of the $20,000 she said her family had deposited, to pay for the cancer treatment for her ill sister.
AFP reported that Sali Hafiz streamed a live video on Facebook of her raid on a Beirut branch of Blom Bank, in which she could be heard yelling at employees to release a sum of money while entrances to the bank were sealed.
“I am Sali Hafiz, I came today… to take the deposits of my sister who is dying in hospital,” she said in the video.
“I did not come to kill anyone or to start a fire… I came to claim my rights.”
In an interview with a Lebanese broadcaster after the raid, Hafiz said she managed to free about $13,000 of the $20,000 she said her family had deposited. She said the cancer treatment for her sister will cost $50,000.
Hafiz told media outlets she had used her nephew’s toy pistol for the hold-up.
An AFP correspondent at the scene said gasoline had been poured inside the bank during the heist, which lasted under an hour.
The correspondent reported that Hafiz and suspected accomplices escaped through a smashed window at the back of the bank before security forces arrived.
Her relatives reported that she was still on the run while Lebanon’s General Security agency dismissed rumours she had fled the country.
Hafiz’s action has been hailed by many Lebanese and was the latest in a series of bank heists in Lebanon, where the savings of depositors have been devalued and trapped in banks for almost three years amid a crippling economic crisis.
Also on Wednesday, the official National News Agency reported that a man held up a bank in the city of Aley, northeast of Beirut. The agency claimed that he was arrested but did not specify if he had taken any money.