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Lebanon bank attacked with explosive amid economic crisis

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Beirut (AFP)

Assailants lobbed an explosive device at a bank in Lebanon Saturday, in the latest attack on financial institutions in a country facing its worst economic crisis in decades.

The official National News Agency said the night-time assault targeted a branch of Fransabank in the southern port city of Sidon, damaging its glass facade.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties.

The attack came a day after Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Lebanese bank deposits had plunged $5.7 billion in the first two months of the year, despite curbs on withdrawals and a ban on transfers abroad.

Lebanon is grappling with a severe lack of liquidity and an acute economic crisis that has been compounded since mid-March by a lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus.

In recent months, the Lebanese pound, which has been pegged to the US dollar since 1997, has plummeted in value from around 1,500 pounds against the greenback to almost 3,800 on the parallel market.

Banks had gradually restricted dollar withdrawals until halting them altogether last month.

The country's dire economic situation has sparked street protests that first erupted in October last year, as well as several attacks on banks nationwide.

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