Guard dies in blast in military-style heist near Paris

French police stand near the scene of the attack in Orly, with a charred car in the background, 21 August
Image caption A charred car could be seen in the area after the attack

Masked robbers posing as policemen have stormed a safe deposit centre in the Paris suburb of Orly, killing one guard and injuring two others.

After blocking the street with a burning car, they blew in the door of the centre, before blowing open the strong box inside, French media say.

When police arrived to investigate the car fire, they fled, apparently empty-handed, firing machine-guns.

A police representative described the gang as a "real combat unit".

Luc Poignant, from police trade union Unite-SGP Police, told Le Parisien newspaper that a safe deposit centre had not been targeted for several years, and Wednesday's assault took armed robbery "up a rung".

'Assault rifles'

The gang, said to number between four and six people and dressed in police "night intervention" dress, struck at 05:55 (03:55 GMT) as security guards were changing shifts at the centre, used by the security company Temis.

One of the guards behind the door had his legs blown off by the first explosion and died, while another two were injured by the blast wave. Other guards took refuge inside the centre.

When police arrived about five minutes after the robbery began, the gang exchanged fire with them using assault rifles, before fleeing to the A6 motorway in two cars.

At one point, they seized a passer-by as a hostage but released him unharmed after 10 minutes.

Following the robbery attempt, police sealed off a large area of Orly, deploying forensics and sapper teams, Le Parisian adds.

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