Separate bands of armed robbers held up a pair of Washington supermarkets within five minutes of each other yesterday, ordering more than 125 customers and employes at the two stores to "freeze" in place while the gunmen grabbed several thousand dollars in cash and fled, D.C. police reported.

A shot was fired at one store, but there were no injuries, according to investigators.

The first robbery occurred at 12:05 p.m. at the Safeway at 4865 MacArthur Blvd. NW, police said, when three men armed with handguns barged in, forced several employes in a rear storage area to lie on the floor and rifled the store's cash registers and office. The gunmen also ordered the approximately 50 customers in the store to remain still during the holdup, police said.

Five minutes later across town at Giant Foods at 3460 14th St. NW, five men - four with handguns and a fifth brandishing a shotgun -- ordered about 75 customers and employes to freeze, police said. The men then took money from the cash registers and the office. As they were fleeing, one of the gunmen fired a shot into the ceiling after telling the customers and employes to stay where they were, police said.

No arrests had been made by late yesterday.