New Zealand criminals try to blast open ATM with pipe bombs

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand police say two criminals tried to blast open a shopping mall ATM early Thursday using seven homemade pipe bombs.

The attempt failed after only one of the bombs exploded and a second partially detonated before the suspects ran away, according to police. The ATM was only slightly damaged and no cash was stolen.

But the incident, rare in the South Pacific nation of 5 million, left many people feeling rattled.

“This is incredibly dangerous behavior,” police inspector Andrea McBeth said.

She said police were making it a priority to find the people responsible and hold them to account.

McBeth said security footage indicated the suspects walked up to the ATM at the Chartwell Shopping Centre in Hamilton just after 2:30 a.m. with two packages containing the bombs and tried to detonate them simultaneously.

She said each of the bombs was about 30 centimeters (1 foot) long and they weren't particularly sophisticated or powerful.

Authorities temporarily closed the mall and some nearby streets while they searched the area to make sure it was safe. A military bomb disposal team was called to the site and disposed of the five unexploded bombs.

The ATM stands at an exterior wall of the shopping center at an ANZ bank branch.

Yolanda Julius, who lives across from the mall, told news agency RNZ that a loud bang woke up her and her husband and she saw two people wearing black clothes running across the mall’s parking lot. She said their faces were covered.

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