Armed Men Steal $54m in Cash in Libya

Thieves hit central bank van in daring raid

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Anis Mili / Reuters

A rebel fighter loyal to Libya's interim government kicks a football as a battle rages nearby in Sirte October 12, 2011.

Ten heavily armed men reportedly made off with approximately $54m in several currencies after executing a high-stakes heist near the Libyan city of Sirte on Monday.

The bandits attacked a van as it was transporting the money from the airport to a central bank branch in Sirte. The van was reportedly escorted by one security vehicle; however, the accompanying guards were unable to fend off the heavily armed thieves.  According to the AFP, robbers hit two banks in Sirte in July and stole approximately $400,000.

Following the collapse of the Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship in 2011, the weak central government has failed to rein in the myriad armed militias active across the country. Earlier this month, a former rebel group briefly kidnapped interim Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in the increasingly lawless state.

[Al Jazeera]