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Plane hit by bullets and two killed in failed $32m airport heist in Chile

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Two people have been killed in an airport shoot-out in Chile’s capital in what authorities said was an attempted heist of more than $32m in cash aboard a plane from Miami.

A security officer and alleged robber were left dead in the incident on Wednesday after around 10 heavily armed robbers skirted security measures to reach the runway at the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport.

They had tried to steal $32.5m (£27.4m) in cash onboard a LATAM Airlines aircraft that was being transferred to an armoured truck, interior sub-secretary Manuel Monsalve said.

A shoot-out then unfolded between the would-be robbers and security officials, killing an employee of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC), as well as an alleged assailant.

The other robbers fled the scene and two burned vehicles were later found nearby.

“The brave action by the DGAC officials frustrated the robbery,” Mr Monsalve said, noting that the alleged assailants were “highly organised” and “very armed”.

Footage shared on social media appeared to show bullet holes in a Delta plane that was parked next to the LATAM aircraft that was targeted.

Another clip appears to capture a moment in the shoot-out during which several gunshots can be heard.

DGAC chief Raul Jorquera said there was “no risk” to passengers.

The $32.5m that was being transferred to an armoured truck was set to be distributed to several banks in the South American country.

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Mr Jorquera said the attempted heist “will undoubtedly lead us to revise processes, protocols that must be improved… it forces us to rethink many things”.

The incident is not the first time the airport in Chile has been targeted.

In 2020, thieves stole around $15m (£12.6m) from a warehouse in the airport – six years after a similar $10m (£8.4m) heist.

In a speech on Wednesday, President Gabriel Boric condemned the latest heist, saying that “when there’s insecurity, everything else wobbles”.

Recent polls suggest that an increase in violent crime has contributed to a decline in Mr Boric’s approval ratings.

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