Gang may have used car bomb as decoy for hold-up

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A gang of armed robbers who raided a post office yesterday may have set off a car bomb as a decoy. Police are investigating links between the robbery in Greater Manchester, in which three people were injured, and a fire bomb detonated under a vehicle in a retail park a mile away.

A gang of armed robbers who raided a post office yesterday may have set off a car bomb as a decoy. Police are investigating links between the robbery in Greater Manchester, in which three people were injured, and a fire bomb detonated under a vehicle in a retail park a mile away.

Three masked robbers burst into a post office in the Droylsden area armed with a shotgun and a sledgehammer just after 10am. Two shots were fired and one person was hit in the side with shotgun pellets. A cashier was injured in the face by flying glass and a customer was struck on the head with the butt of the gun.

The raiders escaped in a grey BMW. They then switched getaway cars to an F-reg Volkswagen Golf. Greater Manchester Police were unable to confirm whether the robbers escaped with any money.

A few minutes before the robbery, a small explosive device was set off in a stolen estate car left outside a B&Q home improvements store in Ashton-under-Lyne.

The vehicle, which had been stolen the previous day, caught fire and was destroyed. Vehicles either side of the burning car were also damaged.

Bomb disposal officers were called to the scene to carry out a search of the area around the retail park following the blast. Nearby streets have been evacuated and the area has been cordoned off for safety.

Detectives from Greater Manchester Police said that there was no evidence to link the two incidents, but inquiries were on-going. But a police spokesman said: "We can't rule anything out at this early stage - but it does seem like a heck of a coincidence."

Dorothy Robinson, 70, said two masked men rushed past her as she left the post office in Greenside Lane, Droylsden. "I just stood there then I heard the shots go off inside the post office. I was scared stiff," she said.

But the car bomb also terrified workers and shoppers at the retail park. Louise Seabourne, 26, a shop assistant at the furniture store Rosebys, said: "We just heard this huge bang. At first I thought it was coming from our warehouse as we were having a delivery. But then everybody started rushing about and I realised it was outside. We could see a car had exploded and it was on fire... It was absolutely unbelievable nobody was hurt. Bits of the car have landed everywhere."

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