PESHAWAR: The police have arrested seven members of a gang of former militants over involvement in at least six bank robberies in four districts of the province and recovered more than Rs20 million of looted money.
Addressing a news conference at the Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines, Mardan regional police officer Yasin Farooq, Kohat RPO Zafar Ali and Peshawar’s city police chief Abbas Ahsan said the gang struck in different districts and took away large sums of money in heists.
They said the gang was busted after its last robbery in Pabbi area of Nowshera district went bad as one of its members was killed and another was injured by the police foiling their attempt to get away with a stash of over Rs20 million.
DIG Farooq said the gang tried to rob the Bank Al Habib’s branch in Pabbi tehsil of Nowshera district on May 6.
He said six robbers were involved in the heist and four of them went into the premises and the others stayed outside.
They were wanted for robberies in different districts
The DIG said the robbers collected over Rs20 million cash and were about to flee when the personnel of a nearby police deployment intercepted them on growing suspicious.
He said the robbers tried to flee with one of them being injured and the police chasing them.
Mr Farooq said the police later held a ringleader, who revealed names of other gang members during interrogation.
He said the robber, who had suffered injuries in the exchange of fire with police, also died and his body was found in the bushes.
The DIG said the robbers did a recce of the bank’s branch for two days before they entered the premises in the guise in women and held the entire staff hostage at gunpoint.
He said a cop was critically injured in the exchange of fire with robbers.
Mr Farooq said some gang members belonged to Darra Adamkhel and others Kohat district.
He said the accused used to have links with militants.
The DIG said on Dec 8, 2020, five masked members of the gang entered a branch of the National Bank of Pakistan in Kohat and took employees hostage before taking away Rs1.5 million cash on motorcycles. The bank’s cashier was critically injured by them.
On Jan 21, 2021, four members of the gang made away with Rs6.5 million cash from the Allied Bank’s branch in Bara tehsil of Khyber tribal district.
On Feb 3, three gang members tried to rob the Muslim Commercial Bank’s branch in Badhbher area of Peshawar but fled on the resistance of the guard, while on March 9, four members of the gang robbed the Bank of Khyber’s branch in Chamkani area and took away Rs8.3 million cash after killing the branch manager.
On April 21, the gang struck at the Allied Bank’s branch in Bara tehsil of Khyber district and took away Rs4.8 million cash.
DIG Farooq said the police had also recovered two cars and three motorcycles from the gang along with five pistols and a hand grenade.
He said the robbers also used rent-a-car services to carry out crimes and the police arrested those dealers.
Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2021