Man Surrenders in Beirut Bank Standoff
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A man entered a British bank in Beirut early Saturday with what appeared to be sticks of explosives strapped to his body and threatened to blow up the branch because of the war in Iraq. He surrendered to police a few hours later.
At least 12 bank employees and customers were inside the bank during the standoff, but all were freed without injury.
Heavily armed Lebanese security forces sealed off the area surrounding the Hong Kong and Shangai Corp. bank in Hamra Street in downtown Beirut. The company is headquartered in London.
The standoff ended after Interior Minister Elias Murr entered the building to negotiate with the man, identified as 45-year-old Samir Abdel Karim Berro.
As part of the deal to end the standoff, the man was allowed to read a handwritten statement to reporters.
``British interests should be struck in defense of the people of Iraq and the people of Palestine. The Iraqi people are being killed and the Palestinian people too,″ the man said before police whisked him away.
Witnesses said security forces fired shots into the air to keep bystanders away as policemen, backed by army troops, began negotiations with the man.