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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Killed in $1.5M Sberbank Robbery

APPeople passing a branch of Sberbank in Chita on Sunday, a day after it was robbed of 38 million rubles in cash.
Bank robbers killed two guards and stole 38 million rubles ($1.5 million) from a Sberbank branch in Chita, pulling off one of the country's biggest heists in a decade.

Police found the bodies of the guards, their hands in cuffs and legs bound with duct tape, when bank employees called to say the doors were locked from the inside and that they could not start work Saturday morning.

"The robbery was discovered when the new shift started in the morning. Police helped open the door, and the two security guards who had been killed were found in the room," a police spokesman told Interfax.

The guards apparently were shot with one of their own Makarov pistols, RIA-Novosti reported.

In addition to the cash, the robbers made off with 9 ounces of gold and 62 ounces of silver bullion from the branch of the state-owned bank, located in the center of the east Siberian city.

The robbers fled in a Toyota sedan owned by one of the guards. The burned-out shell of the car was later found on Chita's outskirts.

Anatoly Uskov, a senior aide to Chita's regional prosecutor, said the robbery was well planned, with the robbers leaving few traces and even taking the video recordings from the bank's security cameras.

Uskov said locks on the bank's doors had not been damaged.

"Investigators are working on several versions of how the robbers got into the building, but the main ones are that they had stayed in the bank since the previous evening or that they had known the guards," Uskov said, RIA-Novosti reported.

Sberbank is offering a reward of 300,000 rubles (about $11,600) for information on the bank robbery.

Police said Sunday that the search for the robbers was ongoing.

Bank robberies are relatively rare in Russia, where banks that work with a lot of cash have elaborate security systems. In July 2005, three masked robbers attacked guards delivering about $1 million to a branch of Vneshprombank in central Moscow, killing one and injuring a second before fleeing with the cash.

Chita, located near the border with China, is the closest major city to the prison where Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky is serving an eight-year prison sentence after being convicted of tax evasion and fraud.