A GANG of masked men staged “brazen” armed robberies at a newsagent and a petrol station and injured a shopkeeper - before all three fled on a motorbike.
The trio threatened staff at Gilmerton Newsagents with a kitchen knife before targeting the Esso garage at Hillend just an hour later.
Shopkeeper Arfan Shafiq suffered a minor “nick” to his arm when his Drum Street shop was raided at around 6.40am yesterday.
The gang made off with around £500 from the till, before targeting the filling station and stealing several packs of cigarettes.
In both cases, two of the men went into the premises while the third gang member stood guard beside the motorbike.
Mr Shafiq today described the moment he looked up from his till to come face-to-face with two masked men, one of them armed with a blade.
The 33-year-old was just about to close the till after serving a previous customer when the men approached.
He said: “Two boys, teenagers or in their early 20s, came in and one of them had a knife in his hand. He held it up to me. The other one was at the side - they both tried to grab the money from the till.
“I didn’t realise they were there until they were right at the till. I still had the money from the previous customer in my hand. Then I saw he had a knife - I just stepped back. It cut my left arm, it just scratched it.”
He added: “They just grabbed the money, and just ran away. A customer I had served before was outside at the time and he heard the shouting. He saw one guy by the motorbike waiting for them outside, before the three of them drove away.”
The customer then saw the vehicle drive onto Ferniehall Drive and then onto Old Dalkeith Road heading in the direction of Sheriffhall.
All three men were wearing hoodies and scarves over their faces and spoke with local accents. Mr Shafiq said the store had never been targeted before.
Police today said they were determined to track the trio down, and detectives have enlisted specialist units including the police helicopter and dog handlers to help trace the robbers.
Detective Inspector Steven Bertram of Police Scotland said: “We believe both incidents are linked and due the brazen nature in which they were carried out officers are eager to arrest all three men and ensure they are brought to justice.
“Traffic in this area of the city would be building up around the time of these offences and I am sure the sight of three men travelling at speed on a motorbike would have caught the attention of passing motorists. I would appeal to anyone who saw these men or who has information to please contact police on 101 or, alternatively the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”