Bawm Party suspected as robbers loot Sonali Bank, ‘abduct’ manager in Bandarban

More than 100 men took part in the attack on the branch in Ruma Upazila

Published : 2 April 2024, 04:57 PM
Updated : 2 April 2024, 04:57 PM

Suspected members of separatist hill tribal group Kuki-Chin National Front or KNF, better known as Bawm Party, have robbed the Sonali Bank’s Ruma Upazila branch in Bandarban.

They also reportedly abducted the manager and looted arms.

More than 100 men took part in the attack around 9pm on Tuesday. At least 20 people, including officials and security personnel, were assaulted.

Citing the injured, Ruma Upazila administration’s acting UNO Mohammad Didarul Alam said the attackers were KNF members and they took away 10 guns.

Didarul could not confirm how much money was looted from the state-run bank’s vault.

Police cordoned off the area after the incident.

Journalists, who spoke to officials before the law enforcers surrounded the site, said around Tk 20 million came to the bank in the morning for payment of government and private employees ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr and Baisabi.

Mohammad Shahjahan, chief of Ruma Police Station, said senior officials of the state-run bank were figuring out how much money was robbed.

The bank’s Managing Director Afzal Karim said he heard the robbers belong to the Bawm Party.

“But we have no confirmation on their identities yet. They have abducted our branch manager. We couldn’t trace him,” he said.

He also said it could not be confirmed whether the robbers were able to break into the vault.

The branch, however, does not have enough cash in the vault as it has a low rate of transactions, Afzal said.

The branch is guarded by police along with the bank’s own security personnel since it is in a remote area. “But they could not resist the terrorist attack.”

Soi Bong Marma, chairman of Ruma Sadar Union Council, said around 100 members of the Bawm Party took part in the robbery when bank officials were saying their prayers.

“Besides abducting the manager, they took away the arms of the security personnel and mobile phones,” he said.

A bank official, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to the media about the matter, said Manager Nezam Uddin was saying his prayers in a mosque next to the bank.

He came out and picked up a fight with the robbers after hearing a commotion.

“They abducted him after learning that he is the manager.”

The Rapid Action Battalion and the army conducted a joint operation for over a year from October 2022 against the armed separatists. Several army personnel and KNF members were killed in the operation.

Recently, attempts to bring back peace to the Chattogram Hill Tracts saw some progress after the Bawm Party agreed to start discussions.