Swiss watchmaker and family taken hostage in brazen gold heist

The head of a watchmaking firm and his family were taken hostage in Switzerland as a gang of robbers made off with his company's gold and fled to France, media reported on Thursday.

A luxury watch on display
Swiss watchmaker and family taken hostage in brazen gold heist. Illustration Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Roger Dubuis/AFP

The scene worthy of a Hollywood action film unfolded on Wednesday evening in Bassecourt in the northern Swiss canton of Jura, just a few kilometres from the French border.

According to the Le Matin daily, six armed individuals had threatened the head of an unnamed watchmaking firm at his home and had taken his entire family hostage.

The family was then driven to the man’s company, where they were held at gunpoint in the car as the robbers entered the premises to steal gold and other precious raw material.

How much gold they made off with remains to be determined, according to the regional prosecutor.

Switzerland’s Jura region is at the heart of the wealthy Alpine nation’s famous watchmaking production, which often relies on gold, gems and other pricy materials.

When they were done, the robbers abandoned the family — unharmed but in a state of shock — along with their car in a nearby forest and drove towards the French border, the paper said.

The alarm was quickly sounded, and regional police and Swiss border agents set up roadblocks at all nearby border crossings, Le Matin reported, citing Jura prosecutor Nicolas Theurillat.

But the robbers, fleeing in two vehicles, ploughed through one of the roadblocks, at Lucelle, and according to the paper, hit and injured a customs

The two vehicles were later found burned out in the French Belfort region, along with an MP5 submachine gun, it said.

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Swiss woman indicted over ‘jihadist knife attack’ in department store

Swiss prosecutors said Wednesday they had indicted a woman for attempted murder on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) group over a brutal knife attack in November 2020.

Swiss woman indicted over 'jihadist knife attack' in department store

The 29-year-old unnamed woman allegedly attacked two women in a department store in the southern city of Lugano.

She has been charged with attempted murder and violating laws against association with Al-Qaeda, IS and related groups, according to the indictment.

She was also charged with unlawful prostitution.

EXPLAINED: Does Switzerland face a threat from terrorism?

The attorney general’s office said the indictment related to a “jihadist knife attack” and the alleged assailant, a Swiss citizen, “intended to kill her victims and to commit a terrorist act on behalf of IS.”

“The suspect acted wilfully and with particular ruthlessness. She brutally attacked her randomly-selected victims with a knife, with the aim of killing them and thereby spreading terror throughout the population on behalf of the ‘Islamic State’,” it said.

One of the two victims sustained serious neck injuries while the second victim, with help from others at the scene, managed to overpower her attacker and hold her until police arrived.

The attacker was arrested and detained. Police quickly discovered she had been linked to a 2017 jihadism investigation.

The woman had formed a relationship on social media with a jihadist fighter in Syria and attempted to travel to the war-torn country to meet him, police alleged at the time.

She was stopped by Turkish authorities at the Syrian border and sent back to Switzerland, they said, adding that the woman had suffered from mental health problems and been admitted to a psychiatric clinic.