TWO security guards were tied up and beaten as a gang raided their security van where cash from a supermarket had just been deposited.

The balaclava-clad robbers made off with a 'substantial' amount of money after the raid in the car park of the Co-op Store in Queen Street, Great Harwood, yesterday at 1.30pm.

Police today said the guards were recovering at home, bruised and shaken by the ordeal.

One guard went into the store to collect the cash and put it in the van, which was parked in a loading bay.

He was then attacked by a masked man, tied up and bundled into a white Suzuki van.

The guard was abandoned in Child Street, behind the GEC complex in Clayton-le-Moors, and managed to free himself to call for help.

Meanwhile, several other robbers had forced their way into the back of the van and overpowered the second guard.

The security van was driven to a car park in nearby Mercer Street and the gang escaped with the cash.

Passers-by came to the guard's aid and freed him from his restraints.

Detective Inspector Jim Elston said: "We are still in the early stages of an investigation and are appealing to anyone with information to come forward.

"The only descriptions we have is that they are male and some were wearing balaclavas.

"It is not clear if any weapons were used, but both guards were subjected to both verbal threats and physical violence to overpower them.

"They are both extremely shocked and affected by the ordeal. Both have been examined by medical staff for minor bruising and abrasions and are now recovering at home.

"At this time, we can not say how much money has been stolen but it is a substantial amount."

Call Blackburn police on 01254 51212 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 with information.