Spectacular airport robbery raises national security concerns

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 30, 2016 17:18

Spectacular airport robbery raises national security concerns

Story Highlights

  • Three armed and masked have robbed an amount of cash that could be up to 3 million euros after breaking into the airport’s security area in a movie-like scenario that raises serious concerns for security in Albania, also a possible target of terrorists due to being part of the anti-ISIS coalition

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TIRANA, June 30 – A spectacular armed robbery has taken place in the country’s sole international airport, sparking national security concerns despite tighter measures just a couple of days after the Turkey terrorist attacks at the Istanbul airport.

Three armed and masked robbed an amount of cash that could be up to 3 million euros on Thursday afternoon after breaking into the airport’s security takeoff area in a movie-like scenario that raises serious concerns for national security in Albania, also a possible target of terrorists due to being part of the anti-ISIS coalition.

Police said the robbers broke into the airport’s security area and managed to steal an amount of money that was being transported from the airport terminal to a plane on behalf of a commercial bank in Albania.

No person was injured during the heist while the thieves managed to easily escape security steps.

Police said the money was being transported by “Nazeri 2000″ private physical security company when robbers broke into the takeoff security area in a Mercedes after cutting the outdoor entry gate.

The airport’s outdoor security area is only guarded by a private company on behalf the TIA concessionaire.

Police say they have launched a massive hunt on the robbers whose car was found burned just few kilometers from the airport. Video footage from the airport’s security cameras has also been seized.

The Tirana International Airport is about to be taken over by a Chinese consortium following a deal with the TIA concessionaire. The airport is one of the country’s main hubs serving 2 million passengers a year.

Reacting to the robbery, opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha described it is a grave incident showing the country’s rule of law has collapsed.

“This grave incident which has exceeded every security standard is a direct accusation against [Interior Minister] Saimir Tahiri and [Prime Minister] Edi Rama. Under their rule, crime knows no border and is provided protection and freedom,” Basha wrote on social networks.

Several other thefts involving large amounts of money being transported by security companies have taken place in the past couple of years in the country, with most of them remaining a mystery.

Investigative journalist Artan Hoxha says the latest robbery is similar to the previous ones involving large amounts of money and the same gang could be behind it.

“In all three cases large amounts of money carried in bags was stolen. In all three cases the robbers had punctual information on the destination of the money and studied the movement of the transport vehicles. That’s why I think it’s the same style, the same hand involved in the robbery. The movement of money in such cases is classified information and few people are aware of it,” said the journalist.

In February 2015, an amount of 3 million euros was stolen at a commercial bank in Tirana while being handed over by a security company. Last December, thieves also managed to steal some 3.8 million euros outside Tirana while the money was being transported.

In both cases the robbers’ cars were found burned while police arrested security company employees as main suspects.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 30, 2016 17:18