Masked Men Rob Armored Van Of $717,000, Kill Cash Courier

Armed assailants gunned down a cash courier in southeastern Moscow and made off with about 20 million rubles ($717,000) from an armored van delivering cash to a bank, an Investigative Committee spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Four masked men attacked two couriers hauling cash into an Interregional Clearing Bank branch on Taganskaya Ulitsa, near the Marksistskaya metro station, at around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the spokeswoman said.

One of the couriers was shot in the chest and died at the scene, she said. No suspects had been detained as of Wednesday, said the spokeswoman, who declined to give further details citing the ongoing investigation.

A police source at the scene told Itar-Tass that the robbers attacked the couriers on the stairs of the bank branch. In the ensuing struggle, one of the assailants shot courier Marat Nagirny, 27, in the chest, Itar-Tass reported.

The officer described the attack as "so swift" that the couriers did not have time to defend themselves with their standard-issue weapons, Itar-Tass said.

The robbers fled the scene in a beige Lada, police and witnesses told Itar-Tass. Spent cartridges from a 9 mm Makarov pistol were found at the scene, the Investigative Committee spokeswoman said.

If arrested, the perpetrators face charges of murder, armed robbery and illegal weapons possession, the spokeswoman said.

City police officials could not be reached for comment.

Moscow has seen numerous attacks on cash couriers in recent years. In July, assailants shot down two cash couriers outside a Sberbank branch in southwest Moscow in a bungled robbery attempt that saw one suspect arrested after checking himself into a hospital. Security experts say such attacks are almost always carried out with the help of a company employee -- known as a krysa, or rat -- who can give the exact time and location of a planned cash transfer.