By Stefanos Evripidou
THREE ARMED robbers carrying G3 assault rifles stopped a vehicle on the Meniko-Akaki road in the Nicosia district a little before 9am yesterday morning, nabbing €25,000 from inside.
According to reports, the driver of the small commercial vehicle was on a money run, taking €25,000 from the West Nicosia Co-operative in Meniko to a co-op branch in Potami.
At around 8.45am, the three hooded assailants, who lay in waiting in two stolen cars, blocked the target vehicle using both cars.
One of the assailants, carrying an army-issued G3 assault rifle, called out to the driver using his first name, and ordering him to hand over the money.
The G3 assault rifle is the standard weapon issued by the National Guard to conscripts, permanent staff and reserve forces.
The hooded man hit the driver with his rifle, causing minor injuries. The driver was later taken to hospital where he received first aid treatment before being released.
The assailants then made off with the loot in one car, burning the other, which was parked just five metres from a nursery.
Police launched a manhunt for the three, with the aid of a police helicopter, and to track down the silver Pajero getaway car.
The car was eventually found well hidden under trees in an orchard on the road leading to occupied Katokopia village.
According to state broadcaster CyBC, the authorities believe the assailants had planned to burn the second car to destroy any potential DNA traces but were unable to do so and so abandoned the car in a rush.
Police were combing the car for forensic evidence yesterday. The authorities believe the cars were stolen. Given the fact that they were laying in wait for the driver and knew he was on a money run suggest that they were fully aware of the exact route the car was meant to take. Links to other crimes of a similar nature have not been ruled out.
Last year, in a similar fashion, criminals stopped and blocked a car on a money run, carrying €100,000 for the Electricity Authority of Cyprus. However, the robbers were able to burn all evidence that time.