A SHOPKEEPER was struck over the head with a gun during a terrifying armed raid on an Accrington off-licence.
The masked raider entered Thorougoods, in Manchester Road, brandishing the weapon at around 7pm on Wednesday.
He threw a bag over the counter and ordered the manager Iftikhar Ashraf to "fill it up". As the bag was being passed back to him, he clubbed Mr Ashraf on the side of his head with the handgun, splitting his ear open.
The raider fled when he was disturbed by the manager's brother Abdul Ashraf, who said: "I just walked into the shop and the gunman was standing there. He turned round, shoved me out of the way and ran across the street.
"I was shocked, it happened so quickly. I phoned the police who called for an ambulance. One of the shop assistants, a girl called Sarah, was getting her coat to leave for the night when he walked in. It was lucky no-one was seriously hurt."
The manager, who was badly shaken but otherwise unhurt, was not at the shop to comment yesterday.
The gunman is described as white, of average build with blue eyes. He wore a black balaclava, a dark jacket and light trousers. He escaped with between £300 and £400 and around £200-worth of cigarettes.
- POLICE investigating the hold-up are studying CCTV footage. Yesterday (Thursday) they were set to re-visit the shop, which also sells groceries and newspapers, to carry out a forensic examination.
Detective Sergeant Paul Murphy, from Accrington CID, said: "This is a very serious incident and there will be a thorough investigation. The offender threatened to shoot the shopkeeper and then struck him across the head with the gun. We would like to appeal to anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously in that area at the time or prior to the incident to contact us."
Witnesses can ring Accrington CID on 353741 or Crimestoppers, free and in complete confidence, on 0800 555 111.