Italy’s highway robbers snatch gold, cash

Kalashnikov-toting gunmen robbed a security van in Italy on Monday, blocking traffic with a blazing truck, firing into the air and setting off a smoke bomb before escaping with cash and gold.

The highly organised robbery happened on a busy stretch of motorway between Italy’s northern commercial capital, Milan, and the city of Como which was closed to traffic for several hours.

The amount stolen, apparently including gold ingots, was initially estimated at 10 million euros ($13 million) by Italian media citing officials close to the investigation.

The security company, Battistolli, later said that amount was “absolutely exaggerated”.

A company spokesman said the amount was still being calculated but added: “For us a large theft can also be around two million euros”.

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“Kalashnikovs were used and shots were fired but no-one was injured,” the spokesman, Marco Melatti, was quoted by the ANSA news agency as saying.

ANSA said that around 50 shots were fired.

The police were first alerted by motorists at 7:05 am (0505 GMT) but the assault only took a few minutes and was over by the time they arrived.

The robbers scattered four kilometres (2.5 miles) of road with three-pronged nails to slow down police.

The smoke bomb was set off under the van to make its occupants believe that their vehicle had been set on fire, the police were cited as saying.

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The robbers got away in three cars which were later found abandoned at an isolated farmhouse.

Swiss media reported that the security van had been on its way to Switzerland — which has been receiving a lot of Italian cash and gold as authorities in Italy crack down on tax fraud.


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