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Spate of armed robberies on Australia's Gold Coast

30 may 2011, 14:52
Australia, Gold Coast. Photo courtesy of www.ziaremondene.ro
Australia, Gold Coast. Photo courtesy of www.ziaremondene.ro
Australia's popular Gold Coast tourist playground was reeling Monday after a police officer was shot in the face during the latest of more than 60 armed robberies in the area this year, AFP reports.

Damian Leeding was fighting for his life after being blasted at close range by a sawn-off shotgun after responding to an armed robbery at the Pacific Pines Tavern, 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Surfers Paradise.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the outlook for the 35-year-old father-of-two was grim.

"He is still critical and we have grave concerns for Damian," Leavers told reporters.

Two men and a woman have been detained but not yet charged, Queensland state Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said.

Long popular with tourists from Japan, China and Britain, the Gold Coast has witnessed 62 armed robberies this year, police statistics till the end of April show.

The holdups involved everything from knives and machetes to firearms and replica pistols.

Leavers said it was obvious that action was needed to address violent robberies in the region.

"I have a firm view on the armed robberies on the Gold Coast and how they should be dealt with," he told reporters.

"However, now is not the time to start playing a blame game with the Queensland government."

Gold Coast mayor Ron Clarke, a former Olympic and Commonwealth Games athlete who set 19 world records in the 1960s in running races over distances from two miles to 20 kilometres, insisted the area was safe.

"It's a safe city. There's no safer city to walk down the streets at night time," Clarke told the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper.

"I've been in cities all over the world and the Gold Coast is where I would want to be."

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