MANILA: Five unidentified armed men last night robbed a shop inside one of the world’s supermalls, in Metro Manila’s suburb of Mandaluyong City, and took with them a yet undetermined amount of pieces of jewellery.
There were no reports of casualties or injuries, as the group, armed with pistols and hammers and is believed to be part of the dreaded ‘Martilyo Gang’ (Hammer Gang), opened fire and broke glass casings inside the FMC Jewellery shop on the ground floor of SM Megamall’s Building B.
Senior Superintendent Florendo Quibuyen, chief of Mandaluyong City Police, said in a radio interview that the suspects were still at large, as they escaped with a throng of shoppers who ran toward the exits when they heard gunshots fired in the air.
He said that panic ensued at 7.30pm when shoppers heard the gunshots, prompting security guards to close all the entrance doors to the mall, located in the city’s Ortigas business district, while assisting people to leave through the exit doors.
Mandaluyong City Mayor Benhur Abalos rushed to the mall following some tweets made by shoppers through their smartphones that some armed men were taking some people as hostages. The tweets turned out to be false, however.
The mall’s operations went back to normal after a while, when authorities were convinced that businesses and shoppers were no longer in danger.
Occupying 21 hectares of land and with a floor area of about 392,000 square metres, SM Megamall is as large as Singapore’s Changi Airport Terminal 2. It has two buildings interconnected with a bridge and can accommodate 4 million people at any given time. The mall is owned by the Chinese-Filipino taipan Henry Sy, Sr and developed by SM Prime Holdings, the largest mall operator in the Philippines.
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