An armed gang stole diamonds worth €37 million in a lightning-fast raid on Monday night at Brussels Airport, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre said on Tuesday. The theft is considered the biggest robbery in recent years.
At about 7.45pm, two black vehicles with sirens blaring forced entry into the airport and breached a security gate when the diamonds were already on an aircraft.
A spokesman for Brussels Airport, Jan Van der Cruysse, told CNN that the thieves only needed three minutes to rob the cargo hold and then, minutes later, they quickly left the scene.
From each vehicle, four masked men, heavily armed with machine guns and police uniforms, pointed guns at the pilot, co-pilot and at the goods’ van employees but no shots were fired. They then forced the doors of the cargo area of the plane and left the spot with about 120 packages of diamonds.
At the time, there were approximately 20 passengers on board the aircraft, which was a regular passenger flight from Brussels to Zurich.
Later, one of the vehicles used in the robbery was found in flames near the airport.