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Highway bandits in Iraq kill five, steal millions of dinars

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Armed robbers attacked a vehicle full of money and killed five Iraqi government workers
  • The bandits got away with about 453 million dinars ($400,000)
  • Authorities believe the robbers are insurgents seeking to fund their military operations
  • In a similar heist Sunday, gunmen made off with nearly $600,000

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- For the second time in as many days, armed robbers in Iraq made off with hundreds of millions of dinars (hundreds of thousands of dollars) Monday after waylaying a vehicle full of money intended to pay Iraqi government employees' salaries -- and this time, the gunmen killed five Iraqi Oil Ministry employees, police officials in Baiji told CNN.

The bandits intercepted the latest vehicle around 4 p.m. Monday on a road between Baiji and Haditha, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Baghdad and got away with about 453 million Iraqi dinars (nearly $400,000), the police said.

Police said the five slain people -- two oil engineers and three technicians -- had collected the money from the Baiji oil refinery and were bringing it to the Haditha oil refinery in Anbar province.

It appeared that the gunmen had been monitoring the vehicle and may have had assistance from people with previous knowledge about its movements, police said. Iraqi security forces are investigating the incident.

Authorities said they believe insurgents have used similar recent robberies to fund their military operations. A comparable incident happened Sunday, when gunmen intercepted another vehicle full of money for Iraqi government employee salaries in western Baghdad and made off with nearly $600,000, police officials told CNN Sunday.The robbers attacked the vehicle a few hundred meters from a local bank, where it had been loaded with money, police said.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report