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Europe

Armed gang raids Swiss casino, makes off into France

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-28

Masked robbers wielding machine guns stormed a Swiss casino in the early hours of Sunday, before making off into France with hundreds of thousands of Swiss Francs.

AFP - A gang of masked men armed with machine guns stormed a casino in the Swiss city of Basel Sunday before making a getaway into France with hundreds of thousands of francs (euros, dollars), authorities said.

"Although the perpetrators fired several shots, fortunately, no one was hurt," said the prosecutor's office in Basel in a statement.

"However, several guests and a member of the security staff were slightly hurt after being hit and kicked by the offenders."

The gang of around 10 French-speaking robbers pulled up in front of the casino in two silver-grey Audis with French number plates at around 4:00 am (0200 GMT).

One began breaking down the door with a sledge hammer as the others ran inside, brandishing machine guns and pistols, the authorities said.

They ordered the roughly 600 customers and workers in the casino to lie on the floor while some of the men rushed to empty the cash tills.

Several shots were fired as the robbers tried but failed to open a safe.

The gang escaped shortly afterwards, making off in the cars at high speed across the border with France along the Flughafenstrasse (airport road), where the Grand Casino is located.

"The perpetrators looted several hundred thousand francs," the Basel prosecutor's office said.

Swiss authorities said it was likely that they had shot at another vehicle while fleeing along Flughafenstrasse which becomes Route Douaniere once it crosses the border into France.

"How the offenders managed to leave Flughafenstrasse, which is in French territory, is a matter of investigations, which are being undertaken together with French authorities," they said.

"The hunt for the perpetrators has so far been unsuccessful," they added.

The general manager of the Grand Casino, Michael Favrod, told AFP that it was the first such hold up on the casino found close to the French-Swiss border and three minutes away from the Basel airport.

"The employees reacted very well. Such things (robberies) happen in casinos, so the employees have been trained to deal with such situation. It was probably due to the training that no one was seriously injured," he said.

Clients and employees have been offered psychological help, said Favrod.

The casino remained open Sunday, added Favrod, noting that clients were still turning up "as usual."

"But we will have to see tomorrow, when the public learn about the incident from media reports," he added.

The raid came just two weeks after another heist at a casino in western Switzerland's Geneva.

Police said on March 19 that they had arrested a 20-year-old Frenchman living in Geneva who had robbed the casino armed with an assault rifle.

The man had fled in his car, which was found in Geneva city. Police were able to capture the man after identifying the vehicle.

Date created : 2010-03-28

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