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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

3 Gunmen Sought in $1M Heist

Moscow police were searching over the weekend for three armed assailants of Caucasus descent who made off with $1.2 million in an audacious robbery on the Garden Ring Road.

The assailants used an Audi-A6 sedan to block a BMW X-5 off-road vehicle carrying the head of a St. Petersburg construction firm at around 6 p.m. Thursday near the Novinsky Passazh shopping mall on Novinsky Bulvar, just a stone's throw from the U.S. Embassy.

The men fired twice with a handgun at the engine of the car, city police spokesman Anatoly Lastovetsky said Friday.

"One of the accomplices threatened the director with a knife, while another one, after breaking a car window with a wrench, got hold of the bag containing the money," Prosecutor Yury Basov said on Rossia television Friday.

The money -- more than 30 million rubles in 1,000-ruble banknotes -- was in a sports bag in the back seat, Rossia said.

Investigators were trying to figure out how the assailants were able to flee the scene by car in rush hour traffic, Lastovetsky said.

He declined to give further details, citing the ongoing investigation.

A police source told Interfax that the assailants were men aged 20 to 30 who appeared to be natives of the Caucasus.

Interfax, citing police sources, identified the businessman as Djeni Kvartskhelia, head of the St. Petersburg real estate company Konstanta SPB. It said he had withdrawn $1.2 million from a bank just before the robbery.

St. Petersburg news portal reported, however, that Kvartskhelia was a Moscow resident who regularly visited St. Petersburg for real estate-related business.

Officials at Konstanta SPB could not be immediately reached for comment.

Until Nov. 30, the BMW had belonged to Konstantin Ganzha, 36, a St. Petersburg businessman who heads Yaposhka, a chain of sushi bars in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Interfax said.

Investigators were looking at footage from Novinsky Passazh video surveillance cameras to see whether they picked up the robbery, Rossia reported.