Robbers could not loot Sonali Bank vault in Bandarban, cash officer and police say

They abducted Manager Nezam Uddin perhaps because they could not get hold of a second key to the vault, the cash officer says

U-she Thoai
Published : 3 April 2024, 07:01 PM
Updated : 3 April 2024, 07:01 PM

The robbers who attacked Sonali Bank’s Ruma branch in Bandarban could not get into the vault, where nearly Tk 16 million was kept, an officer of the bank and police say.

Uthoai Ching Marma, the cash officer of the state-run bank’s branch, said it felt like a near-death experience when the attackers pointed guns at him on Wednesday night.

Uthoai was having a cup of tea at a stall behind the bank around 9pm when three armed men surrounded him. His Muslim colleagues were saying their Taraweeh prayers at that time.

“They took away the money, around Tk 1,200, and the keys from my pocket. They asked me to stand still or else they would shoot me. I almost fainted out of fear,” he recalled.

He said the assailants, more than 100 in number, cordoned off the area. “I can’t say what happened inside the bank. We could not move until the army and police arrived.”

“We found the bank ransacked after they left. They tore up the documents, vandalised the computer and took away the cash from the drawer.”

He said it takes two keys – one with the cash officer and the other with the manager – to open the vault.

“I think they tried to open the vault with the key from me. They abducted Manager Nezam Uddin probably because they could not get hold of the second key to the vault,” the cash officer says

There was around Tk 16 million in the vault as it was preparing for withdrawals for payments ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr and Baisabi festival.

Shah Newaz Khaled, an additional deputy inspector general of police, said two teams of police’s Criminal Investigation Department from Cox’s Bazar examined the vault and confirmed that the robbers could not break into it.

“All of the Tk 16 million was there,” he said.

Speaking to reporters in Dhaka, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said they have information that the robbers belonged to separatist group Kuki-Chin National Front, aka the Bawm Party.

“The group had arranged training for the militants of Jamatul Ansar Fil Hind Al Sharqiya. The Rapid Action Battalion and the Army had removed that camp,” he said.

“This Kuki-Chin group has recently made known their presence. Before entering the bank, they closed the power sub-station.”

According to the home minister, the robbers looted two SMG and eight Chinese rifles from police personnel at the bank, and the shotguns of the Ansar personnel there.