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Last Updated: Tuesday December 21 2004 15:51 GMT

Millions taken in NI bank robbery

The Northern Bank's headquarters at Donegall Square West, Belfast
At least 20m in cash has been snatched in the biggest bank robbery ever in Northern Ireland.

Thieves made off with the money from the Belfast headquarters of the Northern Bank in Donegall Square West.

The raiders forced people working in the bank to help them by holding members of their families hostage in their homes, police said.

They added that the families had been freed and were not hurt, but one person is being treated for hypothermia.

The building they robbed is called the cash centre and it's thought as much as 30m may have been stored there.

With many people doing their Christmas shopping, it is believed large amounts of cash would have arrived at the bank from the shops in the city.

Detectives and uniformed officers are at the bank while police hunt for the thieves.

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