‘Millions’ robbed in French cash van kidnap and heist

The robbery began in the evening in the southeastern French city of Lyon, where two men pretending to be plumbers kidnapped a young woman from her apartment. (Shutterstock)
Updated 09 February 2018
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‘Millions’ robbed in French cash van kidnap and heist

LYON: Robbers posing as plumbers kidnapped the daughter of a cash van driver and demanded the vehicle’s contents as ransom in a heist that could have netted them over 20 million euros, investigators said Friday.
The hold-up, which resembles the plot of a Hollywood action movie, took place Thursday near the French-Swiss border.
It began in the evening in the southeastern French city of Lyon, where two men pretending to be plumbers kidnapped a young woman from her apartment, a source close to the investigation told AFP.
They bundled her into a car and then had accomplices ring her father, who works for a Swiss company that transports money between companies and banks, to demand a ransom.
The father, who lives in the French border town of Annemasse, was carrying out a cash delivery when the call came through, Europe 1 radio reported.
He agreed to meet the kidnappers in a car park just across the border on the Swiss side, to hand over the van’s contents, investigators said.
Police in the Swiss canton of Vaud said that the father was en route to the Swiss city of Lausanne when he was forced to exit the motorway and head for the car park where he was met by robbers wearing gloves and balaclavas.
“There, several armed men who were awaiting the van made him park it. They then held up the delivery drivers, completely emptied the van’s contents and fled in a dark-colored Porsche SUV,” the Swiss police said in a statement Friday.
A French police source told AFP that the van was carrying “between 20 and 30 million Swiss francs ($21-32 million).”
A spokesman for the police in Vaud refused to confirm the amount.
The driver’s daughter, who is in her twenties, was found unharmed at around 10 p.m. (2100 GMT) on a road on the outskirts of Lyon.
She was questioned by police on Friday and said to be still in a state of shock.
“We have no reason to question her story,” a French source with knowledge of the investigation said, adding that police suspected a criminal gang.
No arrests have been made yet in the probe, which is being led by French police.
Swiss police said they were looking for three men with accented French, “maybe from the south of France or North Africa” and called on any witnesses to come forward.
“Many details remain unexplained,” the French source said, adding that the investigation was expected to take some time.


Resurfaced Biafran separatist leader claims he is in Israel

Nnamdi Kanu
Updated 22 October 2018
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Resurfaced Biafran separatist leader claims he is in Israel

  • I owe my survival to the State of Israel: Kanu
  • Kanu heads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement

ABUJA: Missing pro-Biafran separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu gave a radio broadcast on Sunday saying he was in Israel, suggesting he owed his survival to the Jewish state.

Kanu, a former London estate agent, heads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement and the outlawed pirate radio station Radio Biafra but has not been seen in public since September last year.

He maintains the Igbo people, who are in the majority in southeast Nigeria, are a lost tribe of Israel and it is his mission to lead them to the promised land of Biafra.

There had been fevered speculation that Kanu was in Israel after a video live-streamed on Friday via the Facebook accounts of his known associates appeared to show him praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, sparking questions over how he had managed to leave Nigeria.

Speculation 

Kanu is facing treason charges in his homeland and had been on bail at the time troops were deployed to his home city of Umuahia in Abia state, southeast Nigeria, in September 2017.

He then failed to show at his trial in the capital, Abuja, sparking speculation as to his whereabouts.

In Sunday’s broadcast on Radio Biafra, Kanu declared: “I’m in Israel.” 

“I owe my survival to the State of Israel,” he added, referencing the country’s Mossad spy agency but without specifying what kind of support Israeli authorities may have given him.

But he vowed to return to his homeland and called on his followers to boycott upcoming elections in Nigeria.

“I will be back soon in the land of Biafra and I will bring hell with me,” he said.

“IPOB will liberate Biafra and we will not take part in any elections until we get a referendum, it is not negotiable, we will do it by any means,” he added.

A previous unilateral declaration of independence by the Igbo people in 1967 sparked a brutal 30-month civil war that left more than one million dead.

Questions have been raised about how Kanu was able to get to Israel, as he had to surrender his Nigerian and British passports after his arrest.

In Friday’s video the man at the Western Wall bore a clear resemblance to Kanu and was dressed in sandals, white trousers, a white Jewish prayer shawl and skull cap.

Kanu’s younger brother, Prince Emmanuel Kanu, told AFP the footage was of his brother and was shot on Friday. He also spoke to him directly and said he was “fine.”