A FEARLESS shopkeeper refused to hand over cash and cigarettes to a knife-wielding robber.

Ravat Mussa, 68, was confronted at his Blackburn store by a man who brandished a long kitchen knife.

But Mr Mussa stood his ground, refused to obey the man’s demands and shouted at him to get out of his shop.

The would-be robber, who was white and thought to be in his 20s, panicked and ran away empty handed from Ravats Store in Accrington Road.

Mr Mussa said he keeps a large metal bar behind the counter of his shop for protection following a similar incident last year.

He said he was relieved he did not have to use it on this occasion, but would have been prepared to if the man had continued to threaten him.

Mr Mussa, who has run the shop with his wife, Amina, 64, for 27 years, said: “I was not frightened.

“He pulled out the knife and demanded money but I shouted at him and told him I wasn’t going to give him anything.

“I had my metal bar behind the counter but I didn’t need to use it.”

Mrs Mussa, who was upstairs at the time of the incident, said she had heard her husband shouting.

She said: “My husband is a very brave man. He is a hero.

“You do not expect this sort of thing to happen.

“We opened this shop in 1986 and we haven’t had many incidents like this, but there have been more recently.

“At our age we shouldn’t be having to deal with this sort of thing.”

Mrs Mussa said the man who had tried to rob them had been in the shop twice recently.

She said: “He came in a week before asking if we had a cash machine but we don’t.

“Then he came in last Sunday asking if we knew where there was a second-hand shop nearby.”

Shadsworth and Whitebirk councillor Ron O’Keefe said he was pleased this would-be robber had been thwarted.

He said: “As a shopkeeper of 45 years myself, I would advise people not to defend themselves in these situations as you can come off worse.

“They should be very wary as if this young man had used the knife it could have been fatal.

“There will be an increase in this sort of crime as young people are getting increasingly desperate for money.”

Det Insp Nikki Bithell said: “A man entered the shop armed with a knife and demanded money and cigarettes.

“He was challenged by the owner and ran away.

“We need anyone with information to come forward to help us catch this man.”

Anyone with information about the incident which happened at 5.30pm on Friday is asked to call police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.