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Armed robbery on off-licence foiled by ex-Kurdish soldier shop owner

An attempted armed robbery on an off-licence was foiled after raiders targeted a shop run by a former Kurdish special forces soldier.

Dramatic CCTV footage showed the moment storekeeper Shikha Mahsum blasted a gunman in the face with an animal repellent spray.

The fearless shop owner described hearing the attacker's gun "click" but failing to fire as he faced down the raider.

The man had burst into the store just before midnight on January 9 armed with a handgun.

He first pointed the weapon at the head of another staff member before waving it in Mr Mahsum's face, over the shop counter.

But the quick-thinking shopkeeper, who took two bullets fighting Saddam Hussain's troops in Iraq, grabbed the spray from under the counter.

Weapons-trained Mr Mahsum then blasted the gunman directly in the face, before chasing the would-be robber out the door of the Kobani off-licence in Walsall, West Midlands.

The store was named for the six-month siege of Kobani in northern Iraq, when Kurdish fighters backed by air strikes defeated a large Islamic State force.

Asked if the robber had picked the wrong shop, 39-year-old Mr Mahsum replied: "100%, yes.

"100% the wrong shop.

He went on: "Kurdish shop? A million times, the wrong place."

Describing the incident, he added: "I said 'Get out - don't do a stupid thing'.

"He turned the gun on my face, and said 'Give me the money'.

"I went mad, I had my head down under the counter, looking for a hammer, or anything, and straight away I see the dog spray.

"I use it, and chase him.

"He was like a little child, running off and going out. That's it."

Mr Mahsum explained that as a Kurdish peshmerga he had been taught to handle an AK47 from the age of 11 and was used to being shot at.

He moved to the UK 16 years ago, having been shot battling Saddam's forces in Iraq.

Another of his brothers survived twice being shot in the throat while another was blinded in one eye fighting the dictator's soldiers in the 1990s.

Mr Mahsum, whose shop has been open a year, added: "When I was playing football, Saddam Hussain was bombing us - we just kept playing football.

"I've been in jail, I joined the Peshmerga, so that kind of thing doesn't make me scared.

"I know the guy is thinking he could get whatever he wants here.

"But as my dad always advised me, dying is better than surrender or being a hostage."

He said: "Even kill me or shoot me, it doesn't matter, they're not going to taste my lollipop."

Despite being threatened with a gun, staff chased the assailants as they drove off in a getaway car.

West Midlands Police has now released footage of the attempted robbery in a bid to trace the culprit, and two other accomplices.

Detective Constable Gerry Maley said: "We would like to commend the bravery of the owner who refused to hand over cash after the man threatened him.

"This must have been a terrifying experience for him and he refused to be intimidated by someone who was armed.

"We are now appealing to anyone who recognises the man in the image to come forward with a name.

"It is believed that the gunman was in company with two others who waited by the door.

"We are determined to find those responsible and we are sure that someone will be able to identify the suspects."

Anyone with information is urged to contact Mr Maley by calling police on 101 and quoting reference: 20WS/7007D/17

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