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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Robbers Steal $1M and Kill a Guard

Itar-TassInvestigators examining the scene of the armored truck robbery in central Moscow on Wednesday. A guard was killed.
Masked robbers staged a daring heist Wednesday in central Moscow, attacking an armored truck in broad daylight, shooting dead a guard and making off with more than $1 million in cash.

The robbery was one of the largest in recent memory.

Two guards and a driver were taking the money to a branch of Vneshprombank on Olsufyevsky Pereulok, near the Frunzenskaya metro station, at around 9:20 a.m. when two men wearing black ski masks opened fire from Kalashnikov automatic rifles, city police spokesman Kirill Sharov said.

A third accomplice was behind the wheel of a black Volga car, which the assailants fled in, Sharov said.

"It's clear that this was extremely well planned and that they knew the amount of money involved," Sharov said.

One of the guards, Alexander Nekrasov, 34, died of gunshot wounds at the scene, while a second guard, Artur Shakhmuratov, 40, was shot in the leg and hospitalized, City Prosecutor's Office spokesman Sergei Marchenko said.

The driver of the yellow armored truck, Alexander Savkin, 42, was unharmed, he said.

Marchenko said that the robbers escaped with $980,000, 20,000 euros ($24,400) and 8,000 rubles ($280).

"A massive amount" of spent bullet cartridges were left at the scene, he said.

Eyewitnesses described a scene of panic and deafening gunfire.

"I looked out the window, and passers-by were huddling against the walls of buildings. One fell on his face onto the sidewalk," an unidentified eyewitness told Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

"At first I thought a tire had blown out, and then rat-a-tat-tat," a female eyewitness said on NTV television.

Eyewitnesses said Nekrasov was shot dead as he headed to the armored truck.

"He walked out with the bag [of money] and took a bullet in the stomach right then," Nina Murashova said on Channel One television.

"We tried to help the wounded man," a male witness, who was shown with his back to the camera, told Channel One. "I got a first-aid kit out of the car, but unfortunately he died before the ambulance arrived."

Vneshprombank said it was the first attack on an armored vehicle since it was founded in 1995.

In a statement on its web site, it identified Nekrasov and Shakhmuratov as employees of the security agency Strelets-M.

"We hope that law enforcement authorities are able to find the ruthless killers and organizers of this bloody attack and prevent similar attacks in the future," the bank said. It said it would continue with normal operations.

A man who answered the telephone at Strelets-M on Wednesday evening hung up when asked for a comment about the attack.

Vneshprombank spokesman Dmitry Litsov told Ekho Moskvy radio that the money transfer was "done by the book, but there are circumstances that are difficult to avoid and that are difficult to battle."

Vneshprombank is a relatively small bank, with about 2.5 billion rubles ($87 million) in assets as of April 1, placing it at No. 246 out of the some 1,200 banks in Russia, Interfax reported.

At least four attacks have been carried out on armored vehicles in Russia's two largest cities over the past two months: two in Moscow and two in St. Petersburg.

On Friday, armed robbers in St. Petersburg attacked an armored vehicle, shooting a guard dead, injuring another and stealing 10 million rubles, St. Petersburg police told Interfax.

Police said three assailants attacked a guard near the Tekstilshchiki metro station in southeast Moscow on June 15, Itar-Tass reported. The attackers, one of whom was dressed as police officer, stopped the guard, who was driving in an unarmored vehicle, threatened him with a pistol, smashed in the windshield with a hammer and stole 300,000 rubles.

Sharov said armored vehicles were obvious targets for robbers, but hesitated in calling attacks commonplace.

"There have been similar attacks, but crimes like these are not for amateurs," he said. "Armored vehicle companies take their work very seriously, and their guards are extremely well trained. Criminals have to plan attacks like this thoroughly and be capable of acting decisively."

Police have mounted a citywide manhunt for Wednesday's assailants. No suspects had been detained as of Wednesday evening, and the getaway car remained missing.

City prosecutors opened an investigation into murder and robbery.