Thieves pull off $50m heist

20 February 2013 - 11:25 By Sapa-AFP

MACHINE-GUN toting robbers disguised as cops made off with $50-million worth of diamonds in a spectacular heist on the tarmac of a Brussels airport on Monday.

MACHINE-GUN toting robbers disguised as cops made off with $50-million worth of diamonds in a spectacular heist on the tarmac of a Brussels airport on Monday.

The robbery, at Zaventem Airport, was "one of the biggest" ever, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre , the global dealers syndicate, said yesterday.

A gang of eight "heavily armed and hooded" thieves pulled up on the runway in two black vehicles with blue police-like markings, Brussels prosecutors spokesman Anja Bijnens said.

They opened security barriers and sped towards a Swiss passenger aircraft on the runway, where they forced open the cargo hold to reach the rough gems that had already been loaded.

Amazingly, "no shots were fired and no one was injured," Bijnens said of a robbery that was over "within minutes".

She said the thieves made off "at high speed" through the same gap in the security cordon they had opened in front of unsuspecting ground staff and travellers.

A specialist Belgian prosecutors' unit dealing with organised crime "is pursuing all lines of inquiry," she said.

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