Robbers ambush Saudi prince's convoy in Paris

ANGELA CHARLTON
Last updated 07:12 19/08/2014

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Armed robbers ambushed a car in a Saudi prince's diplomatic convoy on its way to a Paris airport commonly used for private jets, raiding the Mercedes for valuables then torching and abandoning the vehicle, police and prosecutors said Monday.

Five to eight assailants flashed handguns but fired no shots in the Sunday night attack, the Paris prosecutor's office said. No injuries or arrests were reported.

Rocco Contento of the SGP Paris police union said on BFM television that the car had 250,000 euros (NZ$394,000) in cash and official embassy documents, and that the assailants were well-informed about the car's itinerary.

The Paris prosecutor's office said the Mercedes carried "things of value," but would not confirm the theft of cash or documents.

The car, with a driver and two passengers, was heading for Paris' Le Bourget airport to handle paperwork for the departing prince, according to the prosecutor's office. Le Bourget is often used for high-level visitors.

The Saudi Embassy in France said in a statement that the hijacked vehicle had German license plates and had been rented by a Saudi national who had his belongings in the car and was on his way to the airport. The driver was forced to pull over, and the car was stolen with the luggage inside, said the statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

French officials refused to name those in the car or the prince, who has since left the country for an unidentified destination. Members of the Saudi royal family often come to Paris for diplomatic or business visits.

The burned shell of the stolen car was later found near the attack site in northern Paris along with another car, apparently belonging to the assailants, according to the prosecutor's office.

The French Foreign Ministry called the attack, coming at the height of tourist season in the French capital, "unacceptable." An investigation was opened for armed robbery in an organised gang.

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- AP

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