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Raid on Saudi prince convoy

Paris, Aug. 18: The brazen robbery had all the elements of a Hollywood thriller: a commando-style ambush by a group of thieves wielding Kalashnikov rifles, a suitcase stuffed with cash, sensitive diplomatic documents and a likely shaken Saudi prince.

The police said today that eight armed men attacked a Saudi Arabian prince’s convoy around 9pm yesterday as it was heading from the Saudi embassy to Le Bourget airport north of Paris, where captains of industry and visiting royalty to the French capital park their private jets.

The thieves held up a Mercedes minivan at the front of the convoy, the police said, before speeding away with a suitcase containing 250,000 euros — about $335,000 — in cash and, according to French media reports, official documents from the embassy.

The robbery took place near Porte de la Chapelle, the police said, and the French media reported that the thieves took control of the Mercedes, eventually releasing the driver, an official and a bodyguard on the side of the road. The car was later found abandoned and burned, the French daily Le Monde reported.

The thieves did not fire their weapons and no one was hurt, according to the police. Prosecutors are investigating whether the robbery was an inside job, as the thieves appeared to know the convoy’s route. The French police have opened an investigation into “armed theft by an organised gang”, but there have been no arrests. The police did not reveal the names of the victims. The Saudi embassy was not available for comment.

While the audaciousness of the attack captured the imaginations of Parisians returning from their summer holidays, it was also likely to fan the anxieties of visitors to the French capital after a series of robberies here.

In March, the police said a group of 23 Chinese tourists were robbed by three men as they were leaving a Le Bourget restaurant, in the Seine-Saint-Denis area north of Paris. The men stole their passports, as well as 7,500 euros in cash.

The historic Place Vend˘me neighbourhood in Paris has also been targeted by a series of spectacular jewellery heists in recent months, including a break-in at the city’s temple of cool, Colette, in March.

 
 
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