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May 30, 2002

Bandits jack Gov’t payroll in Cayo

A daring morning robbery in the Cayo District has left more than forty workers with a payless payday. Reports from police are that just after 11:00 this morning, two men armed with handguns walked into the joint offices of the Ministry of Works and the Department of Transport in Santa Elena and demanded money. There were seven employees present at the time and one of the bandits grabbed a female worker. She was not released until the payroll from the Ministry of Works and monies collected by transport officials were handed over. Authorities estimate that amount to be more than eleven thousand dollars, all in cash. The men then instructed everyone to lie on the floor while they escaped in a grey taxi. The police were immediately notified and set up roadblocks on the Western Highway, but the robbers were not intercepted. According to officials at the Ministry of Works, employees had picked up approximately nine thousand dollars from the bank only twenty minutes before the hold-up, leaving them to conclude that the bandits had been watching their movements. It is the usual practice to collect the money before noon on payday and keep it at the office before handing out the cash at four in the afternoon. That habit will now change. Ministry of Works officials say that all employees will be paid, by Friday at the latest. Meanwhile, police continue to search for the two gunmen, who are described only as tall and dark.

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