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Briton held over Spain bank raids

A middle-aged British man has been arrested in Spain on suspicion of a string of armed bank robberies across the Costa del Sol and elsewhere, police have said.

The 49-year-old, who has not been named, is thought to be behind 15 hold-ups in the provinces of Malaga and Alicante, accompanied by a 31-year-old Russian woman.

Spanish police believe the pair could have stolen about 115,000 euros (£98,345) in the raids.

They are suspected of working together to carry out the crimes, a police spokesman said.

Detectives believe their modus operandi involved the woman first ringing the bell of the bank and when a member of staff opened the door she would be flanked by the man, who was armed with a pistol. He would then enter and rob the bank.

In some cases the man threatened staff by holding the pistol to their heads, detectives said.

When the pair were arrested, officers seized a car, a pistol, a laptop case, two wigs, a fake beard and moustache and a purse containing stolen money.

Officers from Spain's Civil Guard swooped following a five-month investigation beginning in mid-April and codenamed Operation Flanders.

The probe was launched after a bank robbery in the Malaga town of Mijas on April 16. This was followed by another one in the Alfaz del Pi area of Alicante.

The man and woman arrested are believed to have been responsible for both.

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