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Bullets fly in ATM heist

Durgapur, Aug. 22: Three bike-borne youths fired at employees of a security agency when they had come to feed cash into a State Bank of India ATM and snatched away a briefcase containing Rs 15 lakh, the daylight robbery happening on a busy Asansol road 1km from a police station.

According to eyewitnesses, the three youths, all in their mid-twenties, screeched to a halt in front of the ATM near Asansol sub-divisional hospital when the three employees of the security agency one officer and two guards stepped out of their van around 2.30pm.

“The youths started firing indiscriminately. I took shelter behind the van and started shouting for help. Prasanta Mandal and Bikash Mandal (the two guards of the agency to whom the SBI had outsourced security) slumped to the ground. They did not get any time to fire back from their double-barrelled guns,” said Koushik Basu, the officer carrying the briefcase.

“The youths then put a gun to my head and snatched the cash-filled briefcase from me. I could not muster the courage to protest,” Basu said.

Prasanta and Bikash suffered bullet injuries in their abdomen and ribs and were admitted to a private hospital in Durgapur. A doctor said their condition was critical.

Basu said the operation lasted for around five minutes.

A team from Asansol South police station, 1km away, arrived at the spot after around 15 minutes.

Today’s robbery came less than a month after a gang looted Rs 15 lakh from an UBI branch close to law minister Malay Ghatak’s Asansol home. The police are yet to make any breakthrough in the case.

“We are trying to identify today’s gang. A similar robbery took place recently in Suri. We are trying to find out if the same gang was involved in both robberies,” said Burdwan police chief Humayun Kabir.

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