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—File Photo.

KARACHI: Four robbers struck at a private bank branch in the Tariq Road area on Thursday and made away with about Rs1.5 million with the help of the bank’s private security guard.

It was the second such heist in three days in which the guard was found hand in glove with robbers, police said.

“The guard, Nazim Ali, came early to work at the Allied Bank Limited’s Tariq Road branch and sent his colleague to bring tea while keeping his gun with him. In the meantime, a hi-roof van with four men pulled up outside the bank and within a minute the men stormed into the bank and held the staff hostage,” said Inspector Orangzeb, the SHO of the Ferozeabad police station.

“There were hardly any customers in the bank at that time. The bandits collected all the cash on the counter and ran away within minutes,” he said.

He said the investigators could only rely on eyewitness account to move forward the probe as the bandits also tore away digital video recording system linked with closed-circuit television cameras before leaving.

In a similar incident on Tuesday, about half a dozen armed bandits robbed a Meezan Bank Limited branch in North Nazimabad of more than Rs3.5 million with the assistance of its private security guard.

Senior police officers, who visited the Allied Bank branch soon after the robbery, were briefed by the bank staff and area police on the incident. “This is not the first of its kind robbery in which the security guard planned and executed the heist,” said SSP Farooq Awan of the Special Investigation Unit tasked with investigating bank heists and terrorism-related cases.

“If the security companies fail to modernise their scrutiny system, I fear this will not be the last incident. The companies need to improve their verification process before making appointments. Back-to-back robberies this week should serve as a wakeup call for these companies,” he said.

In sharp contrast to the police official’s assessment who has dumped all responsibility on the security companies and guards, three private security guards took a valiant stand against a gang of robbers who had attacked their cash van in Orangi Town last week and died fighting.

The guards forced nearly a dozen armed men to run away with only Rs400,000 of the around Rs8 million in the van.

Police, however, insist on guards’ role in most bank heists. The city has so far witnessed seven bank robberies since Jan 1 this year. In 2012, armed robbers looted 22 branches of different banks, mostly private, in the city.

Apart from criminal gangs suspected of robberies, the investigators also find evidence about involvement of militant groups in several heists. They have lately found it an easy means to generate funds for their terrorist activities, according to police.

The Ferozabad police have registered an FIR on a complaint lodged by ABL branch manager against the guard, Nazim Ali, of the Mastung Security Services and his four unidentified accomplices.