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$6.8M Stolen From Bank of Moscow in Vladikavkaz

Bank robbers made off with $6.8 million in cash weighing a staggering 70 kilograms during a daring Vladikavkaz heist, police said Tuesday.

The robbers broke a window in the local office of Bank of Moscow late Monday, tied up two female employees and carried away 180 million rubles ($6.2 million), $200,000 and 324,000 euro ($448,000), police for the North Ossetia republic said in a statement.

The robbers were apparently well acquainted with the premises, including alarm systems and surveillance cameras, an unidentified investigator told tabloid news site Lifenews.ru. The bank broke off its contract with Vladikavkaz police guards several months earlier, apparently dissatisfied with their performance.

The former guards are the primary suspects, the investigator said.

But another law enforcement source told City-FM radio later Tuesday that the robbery might have been staged to cover up embezzlement at the bank's Vladikavkaz branch.

The robbers actually walked into the bank unobstructed, the source said, adding that they could not steal the reported amount simply because there was not that much cash at the bank. The amount reported as stolen included money embezzled by unidentified employees earlier, the source said.

Bank of Moscow, one of the largest banks in the country and recently acquired by state banking giant VTB, made no comment about the robbery Tuesday.

Police also made no comment about the embezzlement report, although a local police spokesman told Interfax that two bank employees had been detained for questioning. He did not elaborate.

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