Police in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia are hunting a bank robber who held more than 40 people hostage for hours before releasing them and escaping with the equivalent of £380,000 in cash given to him by authorities.
An armed man took bank employees and customers hostage in the town of Zugdidi in western Georgia on Wednesday and demanded the cash.
After authorities provided him with the money and a car that he wanted, the assailant freed most of the hostages and drove away with three remaining captives.
The man freed them overnight in a forested area and disappeared.
Speaking during Thursday’s government meeting, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia urged police to quickly track the assailant down.
He added “there must be no illusion that a crime can go unpunished”.
Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri told reporters the assailant’s demands were fulfilled because “for our government and for me, the people’s lives are the most important”.
He said it was not immediately clear if the attacker had an accomplice among the hostages.