Lahore: Militants sweep another bank in daylight
LAHORE: At least six gunmen, said to be associated with a banned militant outfit and the same who had looted a bank here in September last, struck another commercial bank on Friday and easily fled away after collecting millions of rupees during daylight robbery in Johar Town area.
Till Friday night, the bank administration was going through the record to calculate the exact amount, the robbers snatched away. However, a police source said that the dacoits took away worth Rs 3.5 million from the bank.
Well-placed security sources confided to The Nation that different militant groups linked to a banned outfit are involved in what appeared to be well-organised bank robberies to help finance their militant wings.
Eyewitnesses told the police that six gunmen riding on Suzuki-Khyber car barged into the branch of Habib Bank Limited (HBL) situated near Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Johar Town on Friday afternoon (at about 4:30 pm).
The gunmen overpowered the security guards deployed there and entered the bank. They took out guns, held up the visitors and entire staff at gunpoint and escaped after collecting Rs 3.5 million. No one offered resistance during the armed robbery, police said.
The police reached the spot when the robbers had fled away. Later, the forensic experts also reached the crime scene and collected fingerprints of the accused to ascertain their identity. The gangsters were well-trained and organised as they carried out the entire ‘operation’ within 15 minutes and escaped without facing any type of resistance during rush hours. The Johar Town police have registered the case and are investigating with no arrest made so far.
According to the police investigators, the CCTV cameras installed in the bank were not operational. The police have taken into custody the bank manager, identified as Chaudhry Majeed, and two security guards.
Interestingly, the policemen came hard on the bank staff as they came to know that the CCTV cameras were out of order at the time of the incident. The police got the video recordings of the previous armed robberies took place last year from several banks but has badly failed to make any breakthrough yet.
According to initial investigations, sources revealed, all the six bandits were Pushtun militants linked to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP as the experts are examining the eyewitnesses’ account and evidences collected from the crime scene.
Insiders say that the police are groping in the dark as they are unable to trace the whereabouts of the militants, who have been committing bank robberies after short lulls and with impunity.
Last year, armed militants struck at least 12 branches of different private and commercial banks situated here in different parts of the Punjab Capital and snatched away millions of rupees but the police have miserably failed to nab any of the gangsters.
In September last, six gunmen hit a commercial bank and fled away after collecting Rs four million during daylight dacoity in Chuhng police area. In that incident, the dacoits riding on a similar Suzuki-Khyber car held the entire staff hostage at gun-point and fled towards Multan Road after the dacoity. Ironically, despite being given proof in the shape of video clips, the cops are still clueless about the gangs involved in such incidents.
The modus operandi suggests that the same gang is behind all the bank dacoities which took place in Lahore since last year, police investigators say.
Security experts say that the cash-strapped militants are committing bank robberies to carry out terror-attacks.
Meanwhile, armed bandits barged into the house of a local trader situated in Chaudhry Colony in Millat Park police vicinity. The robbers held up the family member at gunpoint and escaped after snatching cash, gold ornaments and other valuables worth Rs two million. The police have registered the case and are investigating.