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Diamond heist police arrest four

Antwerp is one of the top diamond-cutting centres in the world.
Antwerp is one of the top diamond-cutting centres in the world.

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BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- Belgian police have arrested four suspects in an investigation into a multi-million dollar diamond heist in Antwerp, the world's largest diamond distribution center.

A Dutch woman and three Italian men are being held in connection with last week's theft, described by local media as the biggest in the city's history, the public prosecutor's office said on Tuesday.

"They are being held on suspicion of being co-authors in the theft," the office's spokeswoman Leen Nuyts said.

Police arrested the suspects in Antwerp on Friday, Nuyts said.

Local media have said the heist is Antwerp's biggest, but Nuyts said police had yet to quantify the total value of the diamonds stolen.

Thieves forced open 120 safes in a number of vaults in a building in Antwerp's diamond centre over the weekend of February 15-16.

They reportedly changed the video tapes of the security cameras in the building to avoid being identified.

Last year, Antwerp handled $26.3 billion in traded diamonds, sorting and distributing 80 percent of the world's production of uncut diamonds.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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