Raiders seal off village

AN armed gang that sealed off a remote village early yesterday by cutting all telephone lines in the area, broke into a post office and took pounds 15,000 cash.

Five men wearing camouflage clothing and ski masks blocked a main street with a stolen council van and took nearly three hours to force their way into the unoccupied building.

Villagers said when they looked out of their windows they were threatened with crowbars and told to go back to bed.

Rothbury, 35 miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne, has a police station but it operates on 'short hours' and only opens from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: 'These people meant business and it was better that none of the locals got involved in the incident once the phone lines were cut.'