UK & World News

  • 20 February 2013, 3:02

Diamond Heist: Raid At International Airport

Armed robbers have pulled off an audacious heist at Brussels airport, making off with diamonds worth around £32m.

The robbery - which took place on Monday night and lasted just three minutes - was one of the biggest ever, according to a spokeswoman for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.

She said the diamonds were uncut stones that were being transported from Antwerp to Zurich.

The gang of eight hooded raiders hit a Brinks transport truck on the airport tarmac as its contents were being loaded onto a Swiss aircraft bound for Zurich.

An airport spokesman said the robbers had cut a hole in a perimeter fence, but he was unable to explain why it had been so easy for them to avoid security.

"We abide by the most stringent rules," Jan Van Der Crujsse†explained.

Brussels prosecutor's spokeswoman Anja Bijnens said the masked men, who were wearing police uniforms and carrying automatic weapons, drove two vehicles up to the plane.

They seized at least 120 packages, which was only a partial haul from the shipment, she said.

Ms Bijnens†said the pilot, co-pilot and staff from the Brinks armoured car that transported the gems were held up, but no shots were fired and no-one was injured.

She said a specialist Belgian unit dealing with organised crime was "pursuing all lines of enquiry" and was collaborating also with the Swiss authorities.

"This was not a random robbery, It was well-prepared - these were professionals," she added.

There are more than 4,500 diamond dealers in Antwerp, the hub for a worldwide industry going back at least 500 years.

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