Lebanese troops stormed a building in Beirut on Friday (19 October) in which urban guerrillas were holding at least forty hostages.
Lebanese troops stormed a building in Beirut on Friday (19 October) in which urban guerrillas were holding at least forty hostages. Two of the gunmen and two hostages were killed as the troops regained control of the six storey building. A third gunman was seriously wounded.
The siege had begun 26-hours earlier when four guerrillas took over the building and tried to bargain the lives of their hostages for ten million dollars (about four million pounds sterling) and a safe passage for themselves to South Yemen or Algeria. They also demanded the release of several political prisoners held in a Beirut jail.
On Thursday, at about noon, the guerrillas had occupied most of the building which housed the Bank of America after a gun-battle with Police. During the battle one policeman was killed and about six other people were wounded.
The gunmen claimed to belong to the Marxist Lebanese Socialist Revolutionary Organisation - a minor leftwing group believed to be responsible for several bank robberies last year.
When the seige ended on Friday, the security forces stormed into the top of the building from neighbouring rooftops, using hand-grenades and tear gas. Steel-helmeted troops waited below to fight their way up to the third and fourth floors which were occupied by the gunmen.
Afterwards, the Ministry of Interior said that the two hostages who died were an American and a Lebanese.
SYNOPSIS: Lebanese troops laid seige to a bank building in Beirut for twenty-six hours, after four guerrillas had occupied it on Thursday. The gunmen were holding about forty customers and staff hostage. They wanted to exchange the lives of the hostages for ten million dollars, a free passage to Algeria or South Yemen, and the release of political prisoners in Beirut.
The Lebanese troops surrounded the building while officials tried to negotiate with the guerrillas. But the men threatened to blow up the building - part of which belonged to the Bank of America - if their demands were not met. The gunmen had occupied the third and fourth floors at about noon, after a gun battle with police, in which one policeman was killed and about six people wounded.
During the night the guerrillas repeated their threat to blow up the building and to shoot their hostages, if their demands were not met by six o'clock. The Lebanese Prime Minister, Mr. Takieddin as-Solh, said his Government would not compromise with the gunmen.
On Friday the security forces managed to enter the top of the building from neighbouring roofs, and after a gun battle, managed to regain possession of the third and fourth floors. However, in the shooting, two of the gunmen and two of the hostages were killed. A third gunman was seriously wounded. The dead hostages were an American and a Lebanese.