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Wednesday, August 11, 1999 Published at 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK

World: Africa

Armed robbers terrorise South African hospital

Johannesburg: Private hospitals had been safe from criminals

Eight armed robbers have spread terror at an exclusive private hospital in Johannesburg.

The gang talked their way into the Linksfield Park clinic, telling security guards on the gate that they urgently needed to get to casualty.

Once inside, they paired off, produced hand pistols and began to threaten staff and patients.

One 55-year-old man, being treated for injuries sustained in a botched car hijack just hours before, was told he would be shot if he looked at the gang.

The robbers ordered a receptionist to open the hospital safe but when they were told the keys were not at the clinic they became agitated and abusive.

One senior nurse was pistol-whipped across the head when the gang accused her of raising the alarm.

They stripped staff and patients of valuables before escaping with 10 cellphones and a gold watch.

It is the first such raid on a private hospital, although criminals frequently target South Africa's large public hospitals.

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