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Businessman’s house damaged in explosion

July 06, 2013

RAWALPINDI, July 5: Unidentified people bombed the house of a businessman who had been receiving extortion threats from suspected Taliban militants for the last about two months.

The house of Raja Hanif Abbasi located in Lower Topa in Murree was partially damaged and windowpanes of the neighbouring buildings were shattered. However, nobody was injured in the incident. Mr Abbasi was present in the house and there was power loadshedding when the explosion occurred at around 1.45am on Friday.

Since May, the suspected TPP militants had been threatening the businessman to pay them Rs100 million for Jehad.

Sub-Inspector Nazar Hussain, who is leading an investigation into the incident, told Dawn that one kilogramme explosive material was used in the explosion.

Bomb disposal experts were called to the scene, who after examining the residues and building material said it was high-intensity explosive which was detonated with electric wires connected to a battery.

In May 2013, when Mr Abbasi received the threats, he had reported the incident to the police. However, he was not provided any police security.

“He had never requested for police protection nor we provided him any security,” the investigating officer maintained.In his complaint to the police, the businessman had said a well-built and bearded stranger came to his office in his absence and delivered a letter along with a universal serial bus (USB) and disappeared.

Mr Hanif is the father-in-law of Sadaqat Abbasi who contested the May 11 elections on the PTI ticket from Murree.

The letter written on the TTP pad was inscribed with life threats, Mr Abbasi said.

“There were two suspected Taliban men shown in the USB saying they were waging Jihad and wanted the money for the noble cause,” he said.

Within 10 days after the delivery of the letter along with the USB, Mr Abbasi received the extortion threats twice.

The IO claimed that the businessman had not demanded police protection and hired private security guards.

When contacted, Inspector Israr Satti, the station house officer (SHO) of Murree, told Dawn that he was in contact with Mr Abbasi and recorded his statement in which he did not blame anybody for the bomb attack.

It may be noted that the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) had already informed the Punjab government that some wealthy people in Rawalpindi and Islamabad had received extortion threats allegedly from the TTP.

During the last month, two businessmen in the twin cities also received extortion threats allegedly from the TPP.

One of the threatening letters written in Urdu language was received by the chief executive officer (CEO) of a business empire in Islamabad. Soon afterwards, the local police along with the special branch officials conducted a security audit of the business establishment and strengthened its security.

A senior police official requesting anonymity told Dawn that the businessman had received extortion threats from the TTP finance wing.

According to the source, an email address was also mentioned on the extortion letters for contact.

There were also reports that a property tycoon had also received extortion threats but he did not inform the police about it, the source said.

He added that the extortionists had demanded 25 million dollars from the tycoon for jehad. The letter further said the ransom money was to be received in Dubai.

The two wealthy businessmen were threatened that if their demands were not met, the militant wing would activate its ‘operational wing’.

When contacted, a senior police official in Islamabad said since they arrested a group of extortionists, there had been no fresh case of extortion reported to the police.