Ex-soldier held in Spain over spate of robberies

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The Independent Online

A former British special forces soldier is thought to be among five people arrested in Spain on charges of committing violent criminal acts across the Spanish island of Mallorca, police said on Sunday night.

Spanish police said members of the criminal gang were arrested on Friday on suspicion of committing a number of robberies in Mallorca from May 2009 to June 2010.

The catalogue of crimes, which included raiding one of the island's central shopping malls on three separate occasions as well as breaking into houses and stealing jewellery, is believed to have resulted in gains of more than €280,000 (£236,000).

Among the five arrested, authorities in Spain have said that one was a British citizen described as "an expert in weapons and military tactics who had belonged to the special forces of the United Kingdom". Two of the others arrested were former members of the Spanish Armed Forces, a statement released yesterday said.

The suspects allegedly began their spree in May 2009 when they stole a truck from a military base and rammed it into the mall. Police have suggested that the gang were well-versed in military training methods and are conducting their enquiries accordingly.

The robberies are thought to have been planned using tip-offs provided by a security guard who worked at the mall and who was also under arrest, Sunday's statement added.

Authorities in Spain could not provide any further details on Sunday night.