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How robbers in four-hour siege at bank evaded police

NATIONAL
By Harold Odhiambo | November 24th 2021

Police officers at Equity bank along Angawa Avenue in Kisumu town after suspected four armed robbers raided the facility on November 23, 2021. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

After a four-hour dramatic shootout by police and armed robbers at Equity Bank, many have been left wondering how the thieves evaded arrest. 

Gunshots rent the air as police officers sought to flush out four suspects believed to have been involved in the attempted heist and hid inside the bank at Ang'awa street.

And when the guns went silent, there was no trace of the suspects. Police could only hold onto a few clothes which they believe the suspects could have changed from before disguising as customers or bank staff.

The incident has left police with egg on their face as they sought to find out how the robbers slipped through their hands after engaging them for almost four hours inside the bank.

It was still unclear whether the suspects managed to escape with any money but police were still in the process of reviewing CCTV footage to unearth what could have transpired and also establish the identity of the suspects.

The robbers had entered the Equity banking hall moments after 11am, under the guise of being customers before unleashing terror on the unsuspecting bank staff and clients.

According to witnesses, a man holding a huge brown envelop had walked inside the banking hall and drafted a note demanding money from a female cashier before all hell broke loose.

The terrified staff screamed resulting in a stampede as customers who were in the banking hall dashed for the door to escape the attempted robbery.

Another suspect hurled teargas canisters in the banking hall as they attempted to execute the heist and rob money from the bank staff who hid behind their counters.

Within minutes the parking lot outside the bank and the street turned into a scene akin to a battlefield as police officers scrambled to respond to the crime scene with gunfire.

A contingent of police officers hiding behind cars parked along the street next to the bank fired rounds of ammunition towards the bank as they planned on how to gain access to flush out the suspects.

And despite the obvious danger, a huge crowd of disbelieving residents thronged the street to watch as the battle unfolded with police officers spewing gunfire at the building following claims that the suspects had fired at them.

It took the police almost an hour to gain access to the bank as the suspects hurled teargas canisters inside the hall to keep the police officers at bay.

Reinforcements of police officers came, with the cops in operation totalling at least 30 by noon. The counter mission was led by Regional Police Commander Karanja Muiruri who described the operation as delicate given that bank staff and customers were also in the building.

Police officers were forced to splash water inside the banking hall by the help of firefighters to reduce the strong fumes of the tear gas canisters that had also hampered visibility.

According to a witness, only a single police officer was guarding the bank when the incident occurred.

The witness claimed that almost 10 tear gas canisters were hurled by the suspects inside the banking hall.

A number of people including customers and bank staff who were rescued from the bank were detained by police as the officers intensified their efforts to find the suspects.

According to the police, no one sustained injuries during the incident.

At around 2:30 PM, police ended the three-and-a-half-hour siege after efforts to smoke out suspected robbers returned negative results.

Police suspect that the robbers disguised themselves as clients and left the premises minutes to 1pm.

“We have in our possession a man’s shirt. We suspect that the robbers had a change of clothes and left the banking hall during the evacuation of distressed clients,” Nyanza Regional Commissioner Magu Mutindika told The Standard.

All the clients and Equity Bank staff members evacuated from the besieged building were taken to Central Police Station for interrogation.

“We’re hoping to identify the owner of the shirt, who would, in turn, lead us to his other three accomplices,” said Mutindika.

By 4PM yesterday, staff and customers rounded by police were still being grilled by police officers

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