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Robber in capital sparks terror alert

New Delhi, Aug. 27: An unidentified gunman opened fire inside the office of Swiss International Airlines here today and walked away with Rs 10,000.

Nobody was injured in the shooting at the eight-storey World Trade Tower where many business offices are located. The building stands next to the five-star Inter-Continental hotel on Barakhamba Road near Connaught Place.

The capital has been on edge and security has been stepped up since Monday’s twin blasts in Mumbai that killed 52 people. Police initially thought terrorists had taken over the building, only to find that it was a mere robbery.

“It was not a terrorist act, it’s a robbery,” said joint police commissioner Maxwell Pereira after police and commandos surrounded the building in the heart of Delhi where gunfights are rare.

Pereira said the man, who witnesses said had his face covered with white cloth, walked into the airline office and demanded cash. “He then fired four rounds to frighten the cash clerk... and took away about Rs 10,000. We believe he bolted away from the fire escape,” he added.

Deputy commissioner of police Manoj Lall said “a five-foot nine-inch tall, thin-built man walked into the fifth floor office of Swiss Air” at 4.55pm, “fired two rounds and decamped with over Rs 10,000 and a mobile phone”.

On entering the office, the man, who was wearing a golf cap and had his face covered, went to the cash counter and asked the cashier to hand over the keys to the drawer. He fired in the air to scare staff and customers when the cashier resisted. More than 25 people were in the office at the time. The frightened cashier handed over the keys to the robber who opened the drawer and took all the cash.

He fired another round in the air to ensure no one came in his way as he escaped.

The top brass of Delhi police reached the spot after the robber had escaped, thinking that terrorists had seized the building. Relieved to learn that it was just a robbery, they left soon afterwards.

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