A lone masked man robbed the Kulamangalam branch of the Corporation Bank at Mahatma Gandhi Nagar here on Monday evening after holding an employee hostage at knifepoint. He left with Rs.10.60 lakh in cash.

The police said six bank employees, including two women, were getting ready to leave the bank at 5.20 p.m. when the man entered the bank, located on the first floor of the building.

Banumathi, a 55-year-old clerk, was exiting the bank when the man held a knife to her neck and ordered her back inside.

“He warned us against raising an alarm,” bank assistant manager N. Thirunavukkarasu recalled.

The intruder herded the other employees together and demanded money from the cash chest.

“With the knife pressed against our colleague’s neck, we had no option but to do as we were told,” Mr.Thirunavukkarasu said.

Mr.Thirunavukkarasu and Manager Satish Kumar emptied the chest and stashed the money in a bag which the man instructed one of the hostages to fetch from outside.

The robber left the bank closing the shutters behind him. The operation was over in 10 minutes.

The bank staff, who managed to let themselves out, said the man, in his 30s and sporting blue jeans and a dark T-shirt, sped off on a motorcycle.

With no closed circuit television camera installed in the bank, the police were struggling for clues. The heist took place during the peak hour.

The building housing the bank has a few shops on the ground floor, and the entire stretch of the Mahatma Gandhi Main Road is dotted by commercial establishments.

Inspector General of Police (South Zone) Abhay Kumar Singh inspected the scene of crime.

The robbery comes close on the heels to two recent incidents reported in the city. A wholesale foodgrain merchant was dispossessed of Rs.15 lakh in cash on Friday, and a collection agent of a nationalised bank was robbed of Rs.53,000 on Saturday.