Swedish Airport Partly Evacuated After Thieves Rob Plane, Leave Suspicious Bag

Masked gunmen crashed through an airport fence Tuesday, held up luggage handlers unloading crates of foreign currency from an airliner, and left behind a suspicious package that looked like a bomb, police said.

Stunned passengers waiting to disembark the Scandinavian Airlines jet that had just arrived from London witnessed the brazen robbery at the Landvetter airport outside Goteborg, Sweden's second-largest city.

At least five robbers, some armed with assault rifles, crashed through a gate at the airport and held up the luggage handlers as they were unloading the plane, police spokeswoman Maria Rosenberg said. No one was injured.

It was not immediately known how much foreign currency the robbers stole, but Rosenberg called it "a big sum."

The robbers left a suspicious package on the tarmac, prompting police to evacuate parts of the airport and call in bomb disposal experts, she said.

The robbers sped off in a Volvo and a Jeep, and spread nails on the road to block police from pursuing them, Rosenberg said. Both vehicles were found burned a few miles from the airport.

SAS Cargo spokesman Ulrik H. Marschall confirmed that the thieves stole cargo being transported by the company on the flight from London, but would not give details.

"It was valuable, that is all I know," he said.

A police helicopter and several patrol cars searched for the robbers, Rosenberg said, adding that passengers and other witnesses were being questioned.

The robbery was similar to a 2002 heist at Stockholm's Arlanda airport in which gunmen stole about $5.6 million in foreign currency being unloaded from a plane. Several suspects were arrested in that case, but all were released due to lack of evidence.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

News stories provided by third parties are not edited by "Site Publication" staff. For suggestions and comments, please click the Contact link at the bottom of this page.