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Praise for Selfridges gang tacklers

Members of the public who tackled members of a burkha-clad armed gang as they fled from a raid on Selfridges department store have been praised by police.

Two members of the axe-wielding group who struck in Oxford Street in central London on Thursday night were held by pedestrians as they made their getaway by moped, Scotland Yard said.

One is being questioned in a central London police station and the other is in hospital being treated for a suspected broken leg after they crashed going round a corner and were pinned down by people nearby.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Noyes, from the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad, said it had been a brazen and well-planned robbery on the busy store.

He added: "Fortunately, no-one was injured. The store was very busy and this will have been a shocking thing for people to witness. I'd like to thank those members of the public who stepped in and detained our two suspects. Their quick thinking and brave actions have helped our investigation."

Armed police were sent to the scene after a gang wielding axes smashed cabinets to get at items during the incident just before 8.30pm.

The Metropolitan Police said that all six men who went into the busy store were wearing burkhas and they stole a number of expensive watches, whose value is still being confirmed, before making off on motorcyles ridden by accomplices.

Two motorbikes, believed to have been used in the gang's getaway, have been recovered by police in the Paddington area of the capital.

Asked about witness reports that the offenders had disguised themselves as rich Arab women with designer handbags, Mr Noyes said it was unclear whether this was the case or whether they were simply the large holdalls they used to take away the watches.

A spokeswoman for Selfridges said it was not yet known exactly what had been stolen. She added that the store had been open for business as usual.

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