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Thursday, March 13, 2008
Players robbed while collecting wages in Peru

LIMA, March 13 (Reuters) - The players of leading Peruvian side Cienciano were held up and robbed by armed men as they were collecting their wages, a police official said Thursday.

The victims, who were forced to lie on the floor during the raid, included Peru internationals Juan Carlos Bazalar and forward William Chiroque.

The robbers were reported to have made off with $85,000 in cash as well as the players' wallets and mobile phones.

The incident occurred at the club's headquarters in the Andean city of Cusco on Wednesday, the day after Cienciano had beaten fellow Peruvians Coronel Bolognesi 1-0 in a South American Libertadores Cup match.

'At the moment that the players were receiving their wages, four men entered and surrounded the cashier,' said Cusco police official Juan Auccahuaqui.

'It seems that the criminals were from Lima,' he said. 'They were well-dressed, it seems the operation had been planned. The place does not have security, anyone can come and go as they please.'

Police said the raid lasted five minutes before the criminals sped off in a blue car.

'This is a difficult situation, but we're capable of solving these problems,' club president Juvenal Silva told the RPP radio station.

'We will do everything we can, in spite of the circumstances, to pay the players their wages.'

Cienciano are second in Libertadores Cup Group Four with six points from three games, behind Nacional of Uruguay on goal difference.

Cienciano became the only Peruvian team to win an international club competition when they lifted the Copa Sudamericana, the region's equivalent of the UEFA Cup, in 2003.

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