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KARACHI: Robbers striking in broad daylight in the city’s so-called red zone deprived a travel agent of more than Rs300,000 near the Metropole Hotel traffic section on Thursday.

The armed bandits managed to escape despite gunshots fired by a traffic police official posted there.

The armed robbery exposed security arrangements and effective policing in the city which has been witnessing unabated rise in street crimes despite a decline in other criminal activities including targeted killing on ethnic, sectarian and political grounds.

Police admit cash-snatching incidents on the rise in Saddar area

The incident occurred at a short distance from the State Guest House, which has lately been converted into the residence for the president of Pakistan when he visits the metropolis, while the Chief Minister House, commissioner’s office and chief secretary’s residence are also located in the same vicinity.

Police said the travel agent, identified as Amir Ali, withdrew cash from a private bank located on I.I. Chundrigar Road. As he reached his office near the Metropole Hotel and disembarked from his vehicle, two armed motorcyclists on one bike, who were probably chasing him, snatched his jacket containing Rs318,000 and sped away.

Karachi South SSP Javed Akbar Riaz said it appeared prima facie that the suspects had chased the victim right from the bank and attacked him when they found a suitable place.

“The robbers were aware that Mr Ali was carrying cash in his jacket,” the SSP added.

“As the robbers were fleeing, traffic sergeant Raja Basharat, managing traffic at the signal, challenged them. He fired thrice at them but the suspects did not retaliate and managed to escape, taking advantage of” heavy traffic, Mr Riaz said.

One suspect was wearing a helmet while the other was masked.

The senior police officer said the police were trying to get CCTV footage of the crime scene but so far they had not succeeded in finding suitable footage.

He further said that cash-snatching incidents were on the rise in the Saddar area.

Meanwhile, taking notice of the robbery, Sindh IG A.D. Khowaja sought a detailed inquiry report from DIG South Azad Khan on urgent basis. He also directed SSP South to collect evidence from the crime scene, ensure effective and properly coordinated investigation and assign the task to special teams for the arrest of the culprits.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2017