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Robbers make away with bank cash at Odda Airstrip

Wednesday September 11 2019

Police reports state that Equity Bank officials

Police reports state that Equity Bank officials were about to receive the money from the aircraft when the three men ambushed them. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NICHOLAS KOMU
By NICHOLAS KOMU
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An unknown amount of money was Wednesday stolen at Odda Airstrip in Marsabit County while on transit to Equity Bank, Moyale town.

The money was reportedly being transported by air from Nairobi to the Moyale town on the border of Kenya and Ethiopia at the time of the armed heist. The heist was executed by three robbers on a motorcycle according to police reports.

The plane landed at around 1pm at the Odda Airstrip barely 15 kilometres from the Ethiopian border where the three men were reportedly waiting. The plane had only three occupants, a pilot, his assistant and a cash officer from Wells Fargo courier company.

Police reports state that Equity Bank officials were about to receive the money from the aircraft when the three men ambushed them. One of them is said to have flashed a pistol at the officials. The other two are said to have forced their way into the plane and took two money bags and left one behind.

They escaped on a motorcycle that was at the waiting bay of the airstrip through the chain-link fence.

Police claim that there had been no prior security deployment to protect the cash on arrival at the airstrip.

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As investigations start, police now say that they are not ruling out the possibility that the robbery was an inside job.

Eastern Regional Police Commander Eunice Kihiko told the Nation that as of Wednesday night they were yet to establish how much money was set to be delivered or how much the three man gang made away with.

“At this point we do not know how much money was stolen. The Moyale branch officials say they do not know how much had been dispatched from the headquarters. But we will establish these facts as investigations go by,” Police boss Kihiko said.

Moyale sub-county police commander Maina Nderitu told the Nation the robbery remained unknown to the security officers for almost three hours, adding that investigations have been launched.
The robbers, he said, are still at large, though the occupants of the aircraft are being grilled for any possible leads.

The two pilots and the Wells Fargo cash officer have this evening being questioned over the heist.

Meanwhile, Moyale Chambers of Commerce Chairperson Ali Nur Muumin called on police to be proactive and guard the airstrip like a state facility since there were no security officers at the airstrip during the incident.

Wednesday's heist comes seven months after another heist in which over Sh56 million was stolen at First Community Bank in Moyale town.