ARMORED VEHICLE SHOT AT DURING SUVA AREA HIGHWAY ROBBERY ATTEMPT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 6, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Four men wearing hoods and armed with a pistol failed in a bid to take $1.5 million in Australian currency from an armored van taking the cash to Nadi International Airport yesterday.

The men fired two shots at the rear tires of an Armourguard Fiji, Limited vehicle 15 minutes out of Suva, on the Queens Highway.

After the van stopped because of a punctured tire, three of the masked men held the Armourguard security officers at gunpoint and forced them out of the car.

One newspaper report said the Armourguard driver and another security officer were attacked with iron rods and injured. But the robbers drove off after they were unable to get through grills that secured the rear section of the van where the cash was stored.

The money belonged to the Westpac Banking Corporation and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ). It was taken to Nadi Airport in another Armourguard vehicle and flown out of the country.

Police believe an army issue Smith and Wesson .38 revolver was used in the attempted robbery.

The getaway car, which had no license plate, is believed to be a taxi stolen from Suva.

Police have mounted roadblocks on the Queens Highway in a bid to track down the robbers.

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