Dawn News

KARACHI, Oct 15: Armed bank robbers killed a private security guard, wounded his associate and hit a branch manager with their weapon when the three put up a resistance to the Rs3.6 million heist in Gulistan-i-Jauhar on Monday only a few hours before two security guards whisked away foreign and local currency worth Rs12 million from a cash van near the Hill Park.

This is said to be the year’s first bank robbery which was resisted by the security guards, while the role of the two guards in the latter incident has put a question mark over the hiring criteria of private security agencies.

Police said that five armed men arrived in a hi-roof van at the Habib Metropolitan Bank branch situated in Block 4 of Gulistan-i-Jauhar on University Road.

They entered the branch holding the two guards, Mir Hasan and Lal Zareen, hostage at gunpoint and collected the cash and DVR equipment, the police said.

They added that the robbers were fleeing when the guards and bank manager tried to resist, but they hit the manager with a pistol, fired at the guards and escaped.

The wounded guards were later rushed to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where Lal Zareen was admitted and Mir Hasan died during treatment.

Till filing of this report, the FIR of the bank heist was not lodged.

Monday’s was the 19th bank heist to have taken place in the city during the current year.

Cash van

In the evening, two security guards travelling with the manager and another staffer of a money exchange company in a cash van held the latter hostage at gunpoint, collected Rs9 million and 50,000 Saudi riyals and sped away with their accomplices on two motorbikes near the Hill Park.

The two guards were employed after the verification of their identity documents more than two years ago, according to the association of private security firms.

“Driven by a staff member, the cash van of Glaxy Exchange Private Limited carried a company’s branch manager and two private security guards, Ashfaq and Shams, who often used to be with the van,” said area’s deputy superintendent of police Ghulam Murtaza Malik.

The police quoted the branch manager and the van driver as saying that as the van slowed down over a speed breaker, the two guards sitting on the rear seats held them at gunpoint and asked them to stop the vehicle.

“When the van stopped they collected the cash and got off the vehicle and sped away on two motorbikes with their waiting accomplices.

According to our assessment, the two riders were chasing the van and in contact with the security guards through cellphones,” added DSP Malik.

He quoted the branch manager as telling the Ferozabad police that the van was transferring cash from one branch to the other.

In Pakistani rupees, he said, the robbery cost the company Rs10.2 million.

Off and on suspected for their involvement mainly in bank robberies, the Karachi police set up a special cell to verify the personal details and monitor the performance of security guards employed by dozens of companies across the city. The cell is still operational though the private security operators and the police investigators find it hard to assess the honesty of the people being employed.

“As we have been told, the Glaxy Exchange was being guarded by Ababeel Security,” said Nisar Khara, the chairman All Pakistan Security Agencies Association. “I have personally talked to the company’s chief and he has informed me that all the required formalities were met before the hiring of the two guards more than two years ago.”

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