Bombers hit 3 ATMs and escape

2008-07-15 00:00

A FIERCE gun battle broke out between the police and a gang of looters who had just bombed three ATMs at a Hammarsdale shopping centre in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The latest bombing, according to South African Banking Risk Centre (Sabric), brings the number of blasted ATMs countrywide to 301 since January this year.

A huge blast in the early hours of yesterday morning alerted the police who reacted swiftly, but they were ambushed by three heavily armed men who opened fire on them.

When police retreated, the gunmen jumped into the police van and sped away. Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said the gunfight between the police and the bombers was followed by a car chase to Durban.

“The suspects made their getaway in the police vehicle, [but were] followed by other police members who had arrived to assist and a car chase then ensued. The suspects managed to get away, later abandoning the police vehicle in the Inanda area of Durban.”

Before the bombing, a VW Golf had been seen parked near the centre and its occupants were behaving in a suspicious manner. It is believed that the three men cut open the gate lock and entered the centre where two guards were on duty.

“They held up the two guards employed by the centre and forced them into a small room. The ATMs belonging to Standard Bank, Nedbank and Absa are attached to the Webber Shopping Centre.”

All the ATMs were blown apart and a substantial amount of cash was taken. The area was strewn with stray bank-notes.

Commercial explosives were used in the bombing, causing structural damage estimated at R4 million. Police found several expended cartridges at the scene. The area was cordoned off with police tape while forensic investigators conducted their investigation.

No arrests were made and no injuries were reported. The police investigation continues.

The police are appealing to anyone with information that will assist in the investigation to call Superintendent Willie Olivier of the Durban Organised Crime Unit at 082 772 2341. Anonymous callers can contact Crime Stop toll-free at 08600 10111.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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