Kidnappers strap 'bomb' to bank clerk's chest

Kidnappers strap 'bomb' to bank clerk's chest

A bank clerk was kidnapped from his home today by robbers who strapped a suspected bomb to his chest and forced him to help them steal money from a bank in Miami, the FBI said.

The suspected explosive device was safely removed and the clerk was brought out of the Bank of America branch near the University of Miami. The device remains in the bank and authorities are working to detonate it, said Lieutenant Janette Frevola of Coral Gables Police Department.

A major south Florida thoroughfare, US 1, was closed for hours in both directions at the height of rush hour. Three local schools were on lockdown as a precaution and the University of Miami sent out a campus-wide alert warning students and staff to avoid the area, although classes continued as usual.

The incident began early today with a home invasion at an apartment complex in the suburb of Kendall, where the bank clerk lived, said FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela. She said three suspects later took the teller to the Coral Gables bank, used him to steal an undetermined amount of cash and then made a getaway in a stolen red Ford Mustang.

Ms Frevola said police are questioning the teller and would not reveal his identity. They are still investigating whether he was involved in the crime or just a victim.

Initial reports that there were hostages in the bank appeared to be unfounded, but the incident triggered a massive police response because of the possible explosive.

Bank of America said in a statement that “the safety of our associates is our highest priority and Bank of America is working closely with law enforcement to assist in the situation”.

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