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Last week, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of Islamabad police solved the blind murder of a local US embassy staffer, who was killed in Sector G-9 in 2015. The mystery unravelled after a gang of seven robbers was busted by the SIU and they confessed to carrying out a number of murders and robberies in the capital.

Police also recovered foreign currencies, including European, Bangladeshi, Indian, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese money worth around Rs1.3million as well as gold ornaments and weapons from them, SIU investigators said, adding that they had confessed to killing US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Iqbal Baig during a robbery at his brother Sarwar Baig’s residence in G-9/1 on July 26, 2015.

The gang of robbers consisted of 30 members, whose ages ranged between 15 and 35. All were natives of the Ashkamesh area in the Afghan province of Takhar. “All of them grew up in Islamabad and were either born here or migrated from Ashkamesh with their families when they were very young,” a police official said.

Investigators revealed that the men worked mostly as scavengers and would roam the city collecting garbage to sell to junkyard dealers. They also said that some of them had also established their own junkyards in the city.

Thanks to the time they spent roaming the city streets, they were familiar with every nook and cranny of the capital, including the side streets, the location of open drains and ravines. They used this knowledge to hide and move in and out of areas undetected.

“We did not use any sort of transport and would walk along the drains or streams until we reached our target,” investigators quoted one as saying.

The gang only targeted private houses and not commercial centres because they were located adjacent to drains or had water bodies nearby. Since they were unfamiliar with the geography of newly developed sectors, investigators said the gang chose to steer clear of those.

“After mapping the places where they struck, it was observed that over 75pc of the houses they robbed were located next to streams or drains,” the investigators added.

They would never try to sneak into the house or collect any information on its residents before robbing them, police officials said, adding that they would break into the houses and hold the residents at gunpoint. “They were desperate for success would kill anyone they considered a threat,” investigators revealed.

The gang confessed to killing a man during a robbery in G-9/1 since he resisted. They also claimed to have shot and killed a dog who barked at them.

After a spree of three or four robberies, the men would return to Ashkamesh in Afghanistan, where they used the loot to purchase land and machinery. “With the booty, we become the landlords of our native town,” one of the men was quoted as saying.

“We preferred the Landi Kotal land route to enter and exit Pakistan,” they told investigators, adding that a Rs100 bribe per person was enough to get them safe passage.

The gang had also confessed to robberies at the following residences: Fiazuddin in Sector E-11 on March 24, 2013; Mehboob Ahmed in Sector F-10/4 on May 21, 2014; retired Brig Iftikhar Mohammad in Sector F-10/2 on September 11, 2105; Abdul Ahad in Sector G-11/4 on December 5, 2015; Abdul Rehman in Sector F-10/1 on January 4, 2016; Sardar Mohammad Zahir Khan in Sector G-10/2 on January 14, 2016; and Dr Fiaz Gul in Sector F-10/1 on January 15, 2016. Investigators also said the gang had admitted to thefts in other residences in sectors F-6, D-12, as well as Rawalpindi, Nowshera, Sargodha, Jhelum, and Azad Kashmir.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2016