Shopkeeper saves register after tackling robbers

Ahmed Ali fought off the armed robbers in his shop. Picture: Neil Hanna

Ahmed Ali fought off the armed robbers in his shop. Picture: Neil Hanna

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A BRAVE great-grandfather needed hospital treatment after he was struck over the head with a metal bar while he grappled with two armed robbers.

Shopkeeper Ahmed Ali suffered a gash to the head in Thursday’s attack in the Restalrig Village Store he has run for more than 30 years.

The 77-year-old needed six stitches to the cut, while his hands were left badly bruised and swollen from warding off repeated blows from his attackers. Despite his injuries, the bloodied pensioner refused to let go of the till, holding on to it as the larger of the robbers tried to prise it from his grasp.

And Mr Ali eventually proved too strong for the bar-wielding thug, who was forced to give up empty handed.

Mr Ali, who returned home from hospital yesterday, said he had no warning of the attack.

He said: “Two youngsters came in and attacked me. They waited until my other customers had gone and then they attacked me at the same time.

“There was no warning at all, just ‘bang!’

“The bigger one hit me over the head with a metal bar, and the other one punched me.

“When he hit me the second time with the bar I blocked with my hand, which is why it is badly injured. I can’t even hold a cup.”

He added: “They tried to grab the till off me but I wouldn’t let them. I knew I had to fight them and I was strong enough to hold on. I told them to bugger off, and used many other bad words.”

The smaller of the two men made off with the scratch card machine, though it is understood he would be unable to cash in on his haul as all tickets are marked with a security code.

Meanwhile, Mr Ali continued to struggle with the other man, who eventually gave up and fled, leaving his weapon behind the shop.

He claimed the two men had asked him to find products for them inside the store in a bid to lure him out from behind the counter. But when Mr Ali was able to tell them that they were not available without leaving his post, the pair waited until his other customers had gone before launching the attack.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to the incident.

DS Robbie Wallace said: “This assault and robbery left the elderly victim with a head injury which required hospital treatment. We are urgently seeking anyone who was in the area of Restalrig Road South at around 1pm on Thursday, or who recognises the description of the suspect to get in touch with police on 101.”

A police spokesman added: “The two suspects entered the shop and demanded the elderly shopkeeper hand over the till.

“When he refused to do so, the suspects assaulted him and made off with a quantity of scratchcards. The shopkeeper was taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to be treated for his injuries.”

The larger man was described as white, in his late teens, and about 5ft 10in tall with a slim build. He was wearing a woollen hat, multi-toned black, grey and brown gilet and dark bottoms.

The smaller man has been described as white and also in his late teens. He was about 5ft 6in tall, with a slim build and wearing a dark blue hooded top with “Hollister California” written across the chest.

He was also wearing a dark blue beanie hat and dark Fred Perry bottoms.