ARMED robbers struck this afternoon attacking a security guard with a hammer and punching him in the face before making off with a cash box.

Two men assaulted the 47-year-old security guard at the busy Cables Retail Park in Prescot just after noon.

He was approached from behind as he returned to his van as they tried to snatch the cash box from his hand.

When he resisted he was struck on the left leg with the hammer and the two men jumped into a waiting car driven by a third offender.

The guard declined an ambulance but was checked over by paramedics after complaining of pain in his jaw.

The get-away car is described as small and white similar to Citreon or Corsa and drove off towards Manchester Road. A car matching this description has since been found abandoned close to a local cemetery and is being forensically examined.

Detective Sergeant Paul Ford said: "This was an extremely unpleasant and nasty attack on a man who was simply doing his job. Two men with their faces covered approached him from behind and threatened him and demanded the cash box.

"When he has resisted they have assaulted him, grabbed the box and escaped in a waiting car. Thankfully the victim is not badly hurt but he is understandably very shaken.

"This robbery happened outside a busy supermarket in the middle of the day so I am sure that it was witnessed by many people.

"Detectives are speaking to witnesses and following several lines of enquiry however we do need the public's help. I would urge anyone who was in this area this morning before the robbery who saw a man or a group of men acting suspiciously to contact us with any information that could help us.

"Robberies like this are rare and I would like to reassure people that we are doing everything we can to catch the people responsible."

Call Matrix Serious Organised Crime unit on 0800 230 0600 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.