Karachi: Police see terror link as 2 banks robbed
KARACHI: Making it look as easy as drawing cash from an ATM, robbers walked away with millions of rupees from two banks in the city on Tuesday, even adding the security guards’ guns to their bounty.
The two robberies bring the number of bank heists in the city this year to 12 – three of them taking place last month. Police believe that terrorist organisations are responsible for the bank robberies in order to raise funds for their operations.
The UBL Bank branch in Waqas Market, Saeedabad, was the first one to be struck in the day. “The investigation so far has revealed that six men on motorcycles stopped outside the bank in the morning,” Saeedabad SHO Gulshan Junejo told The News.
“They first tried to overpower Constable Abid of the Saeedabad police station. When the constable resisted, the robbers struck his head with the butts of their TT pistols, snatched his SMG and entered the bank.”
The police officer said interestingly, the two private security guards deployed inside the bank made no attempt to stop the robbers and surrendered by handing over their repeater guns to them.
“The robbers took Rs1.82 million from the cash counter and on their way out, stopped near the injured constable, threw away his SMG, but took away its magazine with them.”
Junejo said a police team immediately went to the spot, while Special Investigation Unit and Anti-Violent Crime Cell investigation personnel also arrived there later.
The SHO said the police had taken the CCTV footage of the robbery into custody. “The footage has revealed that two of the robbers were wearing jeans and shirt. The rest were dressed in Shalwar Kameez. Two of them were wearing helmets.” Junejo said forensic experts had also examined the crime scene.
The second robbery
The Bank Al-Habib branch near Kamran Chowrangi in Gulistan-e-Jauhar was looted a few hours after the Saeedabad robbery.
“Six men in a Shehzore truck stopped in front of the bank in the afternoon,” Shah Faisal Division SP Irfan Bhutto told The News.
“They ran towards the guard, took his repeater gun and entered the bank. They cornered the security guard inside and looted Rs4.7 million from the cash counter.”
The police official said the robbers had used TT pistols. “The CCTV footage shows that two men were dressed in pants and shirt.
The rest were wearing Shalwar Kameez.” The SP said a police team went to the bank and cordoned off the area, while forensic experts examined the scene.
The same men?
Keeping the similarities between the two bank heists in view, Anti–Extremism Cell’s SSP Mohammad Aslam Khan suspects that the same robbers looted the two banks.
“The only difference is the vehicles used in the two robberies. In the Saeedabad bank heist, the robbers were on motorcycles, while a truck was used in the other robbery. We are investigating if a truck was snatched in any area.”
The SSP said the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) might be involved in the bank robberies in Karachi as there was credible information that terrorist outfits were engaged in criminal activities in the city to raise funds for their operations.
“The CCTV footages of the two bank heists reveal that the robbers were well-trained. Both the robberies were committed in five or six minutes.”
Some law enforcement agencies, without mentioning their names, informed the public through newspapers on Tuesday that it had busted a gang involved in bank robberies.
“The gang has revealed that terrorists are planning to step up bank robberies and kidnappings for ransom. The funds generated through these criminal activities will be utilised for terrorist activities in various cities. The terrorists have identified the targets and carried out reconnaissance in association with their local facilitators,” they stated.
“In the larger interest of the public, security agencies and communities are requested to ensure vigilance against such activities and follow the principle, ‘If you see something, say something’.”