Rs3.2m bank heist in Gulshan
KARACHI: Half a dozen armed robbers stormed into a private bank branch in Gulshan-i-Iqbal on Friday morning, held the staff and security guards hostage and walked off with Rs3.2 million within 10 minutes, police said.
This was the sixth bank heist in the city this year, investigators said, claiming that the suspects of previous four out of five robberies had already been traced and arrested.
This time again the armed men did not face any resistance from the two private security guards deputed inside the bank branch, but the police ruled out the possibility of their connivance with the bandits.
“It was around 9:45am when a hi-roof carrying six young men stopped outside the Gulshan-i-Iqbal branch of Askari Bank Limited in block-6, off University Road, and two of them entered the branch,” said Gulshan-i-Iqbal SHO Inspector Kanson Dean.
Witnesses were quoted as saying that initially two men entered the branch and pulled out pistols and then their three accomplices came in.
The inspector said there were also some visitors inside the branch. After relieving the two security guards of their shotguns, the armed men took all of them along with bank staff hostage at gunpoint.
“One of the bandits then moved to the cash counter, collected cash and also emptied lockers, but they did not approach the strong room,” he said, adding that a total of Rs3.2 million was taken away.
“Interestingly, they did not take away the guns of security guards,” the inspector said. “The episode lasted between eight and 10 minutes,” he added.
“We have registered an FIR (551/2011) under Sections 392 (punishment for robbery) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code on a complaint of the branch manager.”
The investigators claimed they had found some surprising facts and vital clues while probing the latest robbery.
“We have for the first time witnessed that the bandits used a hi-roof van for a bank robbery,” said SP Raja Umer Khattab of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), tasked with bank heist probes.
He said: “We have acquired the footage of the CCTV (close circuit television) cameras installed inside the branch. Strangely enough, the bandits did not even touch the cameras though usually bank robbers attempt to damage them.”
He said the bandits used pistols and five of them took part in the heist as their sixth accomplice kept waiting in the van. Of the six young men, five were wearing shalwar kameez and none of them had his face covered, he added.
“While examining the footage, we found the bandits were a little panicky or were in a hurry that shows that they were not professionals. We have reason to believe that it’s a new group in the crime but at the same time we have traced some key facts to investigate the case,” the SP said.
It is worth noting here that the city witnessed 22 bank robberies last year during which the police authorities claimed to have solved 16 such cases by arresting more than a dozen suspects booked in 2010 incidents.
The police said multiple groups, including a few banned militant outfits, were found striking bank branches apparently to generate funds for their activities.