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Shoppers screamed and dived for cover yesterday as a gunfight erupted outside Winnipeg's largest mall during a daylight armoured-car heist.

Eight shots were fired before the robber fled through a store, trailing blood but clutching his gun and a bag of cash.

A police manhunt was launched after the noon-hour robbery outside the CIBC branch at the Polo Park Mall in the west end.

"There is a trail of blood into the area, so obviously some substantial bleeding there," said city police spokesman Constable Bob Johnson, adding that the man was wounded after exchanging eight shots with the armoured car guard.

"We are certainly concerned for his well-being. He may have made it away from the scene. We don't know if he's passed out or what's happened to him."

No one else was hurt during the gun battle, which began with the bandit brandishing a handgun and demanding cash from the Securicor Cash Services guard, and ended with Christmas shoppers ducking for cover.

"When the shot was fired, it hit the doors and it sounded like an explosion," a 33-year-old worker at the nearby Sears Bakery, said. He called mall security.

"I happened to look up and the doors were shattering and people were screaming.

"One lady hit the deck. People were in a bit of a panic."

Witness Steve Monk called it a fusillade.

"There were a lot of shots; I figure at least a dozen, maybe 15," he said.

"I was just walking towards where the doors are and I was on my cellphone. Otherwise, I might have been in the line of fire or something because I was delayed a little bit.

"I was just walking to the bank when I heard the shots. I said, 'That sounds like gunfire,' and I just jumped back into my car."

After he was shot, the suspect fled into the mall and then out through the back exit of an MTS phone store.

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