Hours after a daring attempt at armed robbery at a Muthoot Finance branch in Hyderabad was foiled, the Cyberabad police launched a manhunt for the suspects in a residential neighbourhood in the city.
Even teams from the elite counter-terrorism unit Octopus force were roped in for the search operation that began on Tuesday evening and lasted till around 3am on Wednesday morning.
The unidentified suspects had tried to rob the Muthoot Finance branch at gunpoint early on Tuesday, but had to flee after alert employees set off the alarm.
After obtaining forensic evidence and CCTV footage from the crime scene, the police tracked the getaway vehicle of the suspects to 'Happy Homes' apartment in Attapur, late on Tuesday evening.
The SUV that was supposed to be used as the getaway car, was reportedly found in the parking lot of the apartment.
CCTV footage from the complex also showed two men disembarking from the car and entering the building.
With the police suspecting that all seven accused in the case could be armed, they called in the special forces.
According to a report in the Deccan Chronicle, the apartment consists of a complex of 9-storey buildings, with more than 300 flats.
Heavily armed Octopus forces cordoned off the area and evacuated residents in the middle of the night.
â€śWe found two persons getting down from the vehicle and entering the apartment. We suspect the other suspects are also hiding in the apartment. Once we clear the apartment from the residents and get a go, octopus teams will enter each block and hunt them out,â€ť an official had told DC.
TNIE reported that the first batch of Octopus personnel arrived at the complex at around 9.30pm. Within an hour, two more batches had arrived. By 12am, residents of three of the nine blocks of the residential building were evacuated.
â€śNot to leave anything to chance, we started combing every inch of the apartment complex. Each and every flat would be checked though it would cause some inconvenience to the occupants,â€ť the police was quoted as saying.
The searches were finally completed in the wee hours of Wednesday, just after 3am.
The police refused to confirm if anyone had been detained from the spot. However, some media reports suggested that two people had been taken in for interrogation.
The police did, however, tell the media that a search of the vehicle in CCTV footage had yielded several small weapons.
"We found small weapons like knives, and a large empty bag. We suspect that they wanted to use it to stash the gold and flee after the robbery attempt. According to the CCTV visuals, two of them seem to have a pistol. We have confirmed that this is the escape vehicle they used," an official told the media.
At around 10am on Tuesday, four men attempted to rob the Mailardevpally branch of Muthoot Finance.
CCTV footage of the incident showed one man jump over the counter to threaten employees with a knife, while two others were armed with guns.
However, alert employees immediately raised a ruckus and hit the alarm. The armed robbers then fled in a car driven by a fifth accomplice.
This was not the first instance of armed robbery in a Muthoot Finance branch in Hyderabad. In December last year, an inter-state gang of dacoits was involved in a Muthoot Finance gold heist in RC Puram on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Four conmen had gained access to the Muthoot office by posing as CBI officials, before threatening the staff with weapons and escaping with gold ornaments valued at about Rs 10 crore.
The gang also took away the hard disk, which stored the CCTV footage, with them.
They escaped in a black Scorpio car, which was caught on CCTV, and helped the police track them down. They were later arrested.