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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

KNF loots 2 banks in Thanchi in broad daylight

  • Tk17.45 lakh in cash, mobile phones looted
  • Sonali Bank suspends operations in 6 upazilas
  • Bank manager still untraced
  • CID: Criminals didn’t take money from vault in Ruma branch
  • Minister: KNF looted 10 weapons in Ruma robbery
Update : 03 Apr 2024, 11:08 PM

Only hours after robbing a bank in Ruma of Bandarban hill district on Tuesday night, a gang of 15-20 armed members of the separatist group Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) fired blank shots as they barged into two more banks at Thanchi Bazar in broad daylight on Monday.

They looted Tk17.45 lakh from the cash counters at the branch offices of Bangladesh Krishi Bank and Sonali Bank at around 12:30pm. Of the money, Tk15,00,000 was looted from Sonali Bank and Tk2,45,000 from Krishi Bank, officials said.

Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md Mamun said the armed gang held customers hostage at gunpoint. 

Thanchi police station Officer-in-Charge Md Jashim Uddin, locals, and eyewitnesses said the terrorists came in a truck through Saizon Bompara area of Thanchi. They entered the banks by firing blank shots, took the cash, and snatched mobile phones from the staff and customers.

Alarmed by the series of attacks, Sonali Bank’s operations in Thanchi, Ruma, Rowangchhari, Alikadam, Lama, and Naikhongchhari upazilas were suspended on Monday. However, the Bandarban Sadar branch will remain open, Chittagong North Divisional Office General Manager Md Musa Khan said.

Additional security measures have been taken in the areas, and vehicular movements carrying tourists have been suspended in Ruma and Thanchi upazilas. 

“The separatist group KNF is involved in the bank robbery incidents in Ruma and Thanchi. Their activities have increased recently,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters at the Secretariat on Monday.

What happened in Ruma?

Earlier, a group of armed men looted the Upazila branch of Sonali Bank at Ruma Bazar at around 8:30pm on Tuesday. 

Upazila Acting Nirbahi Officer Didarul Alam initially said the attackers stole Tk1.59 crore from the vault, looted 14 guns, and abducted its manager, Nezam Uddin, who was untraced until last night.

During an inspection, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) found all the money in the bank vault.

Meanwhile, the home minister said the terrorists looted two SMGs, eight rifles of the Ansar force in the bank, and two shotguns from the Ruma Upazila Complex. 

Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said: “Before entering the Sonali Bank branch at Ruma, they shut down the electrical substation and proceeded towards the bank. Police personnel and the bank manager were all in the mosque for Taraweeh prayers. At that time, the attackers broke in and injured two policemen. They also broke a vault.”

The minister said: “The Kuki-Chin group, which had previously established a presence in Bandarban, collaborated with a militant organization (Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya) and arranged training for its members. Our RAB force and army have removed their base. Recently, they have become active again in various ways.”

The activities of Jama'atul Ansar came to light in October 2022, when the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was investigating the disappearance of seven youths from Comilla. Later, a list of 55 trainees, mostly students from across the country, was discovered. Over several months, most of the leaders and trained members of Jama’atul Ansar and the KNF were arrested during drives.

Bank manager still without trace

Urging the authorities to rescue the banker, government employees formed a human chain at Ruma Bazar area on Monday. They demanded prompt action in this regard. 

Police sources said that there had been no trace of the banker since the robbery. 

Joint forces in action

Personnel of the police, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), and the army have been raiding different places in Ruma and Thanchi to arrest the criminals. A team led by the police chief is also present there.

Inspector General of Police Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mamun, Chittagong Range Additional Deputy Inspector General Md Mahfuzur Rahman, Bandarban Deputy Commissioner (DC) Shah Mojahid Uddin, and Superintendent Police Saikat Saheen visited Ruma and Thanchi on Monday.

“We are putting in our maximum efforts to find the abducted Sonali Bank official and catch the miscreants,” the IGP told reporters after inspecting the scene.

CID inspects site

Shahnawaz Khaled, CID Regional Special Superintendent of Police, said on Monday the robbers did not loot any money from the Ruma Upazila branch of Sonali Bank on Tuesday night. 

Khaled said two teams of the CID's Chittagong and Cox's Bazar units went to Ruma and collected evidence on the incident. Later, they opened the bank vault and found the money inside.

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