Tear Gas inside Halba Bank as Security Forces Clash with Protesters
Security forces on Friday used tear gas inside a bank in Akkar’s Halba in a bid to eject protesters following clashes, the National News Agency said.
NNA said the bank and the area outside it witnessed scuffles, stone-throwing and gunshots that were fired in the air.
An army force meanwhile arrived on the scene to assist riot police in containing the situation.
The Federation of Syndicates of Banks Employees in Lebanon on Thursday warned that it might stage a new strike amid the ongoing protests in the country that have increasingly targeted banks in recent days.
In a statement, the federation said “bank branches witnessed organized attacks in late 2019 by individuals claiming to represent the popular protest movement.”
A grinding liquidity crunch has hit Lebanon, where unprecedented protests since October 17 have railed against the political class and a deepening economic crisis.
Since September, banks have restricted the amount of dollars that can be withdrawn or transferred abroad. Although no formal policy is in place, most have arbitrarily capped withdrawals at around $1,000 a month, while others have imposed tighter restrictions.
With ordinary depositors bearing the brunt of these measures, bank branches have transformed into arenas of conflict. Fistfights, shouting and tears are becoming more frequent, as cash-hungry clients haggle tellers to release money trapped under informal capital controls.