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Bank manager freed on ransom payment

Looted money, arms yet to be recovered

Published : 04 Apr 2024 11:13 PM

Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), an armed separatist group active in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, released Sonali Bank Ruma Branch Manager Nizam Uddin on Thursday night after paying a ransom of Tk 15 lakh to them.

RAB-15 Commanding Officer Lt Col HM Sajjad Hossain, however, claimed that law enforcers rescued the bank official abducted by the armed terrorists on Tuesday night.

According to local sources, looted money, firearms and ammunition could not be recovered till filing of this report at 9:30 pm on Thursday.  

The RAB officer said that the elite force rescued the bank official from the Ruma Bazar area. He was being taken to Bandarban RAB camp, he added.

Nizam Uddin was freed after paying Tk 15 lakh as ransom, according to his family members.

The Sonali Bank authorities paid a ransom of Tk 15 lakh, demanded by KNF, on Thursday evening. The money was handed over to a representative of the KNF just before Iftar.

KNF terrorists stormed Bandarban's Ruma Upazila Parishad Complex on April 2 night, disarmed security personnel and took away their firearms, robbed the Sonali Bank branch and abducted the bank manager.

Earlier on Thursday, the KNF terrorists demanded a ransom of Tk 15 lakh for the release of the bank manager.

Nizam Uddin’s wife Nazmun Nahar, a teacher at Bandarban Cantonment Public School and College, confirmed the matter to the 

media shortly after she received a phone call from the KNF.

In another development, Bandarban Zilla Parishad Chairman Kyaw Shwe Hla, also president of the district peace committee, at a press conference, declined to hold any discussion with the KNF until it releases the abducted bank manager, returns 14 looted weapons and money, and stops all kinds of criminal activities.

As part of its criminal activities, the separatist group kidnapped the Sonali Bank manager on Tuesday and looted Tk 1.5 crore from the Ruma branch.

The incident occurred during Taraweeh prayers. The robbers also took away 14 weapons from the Ansar members guarding the bank and abducted the bank manager from the mosque on the bank premises.

They committed robberies at Sonali Bank and Krishi Bank branches in Thanchi upazila of Bandarban on Wednesday.

Members of the KNF carried out planned bank raids in Ruma and Thanchi upazilas of Bandarban on Tuesday and Wednesday aiming to swiftly amass a large amount of money, said the deputy inspector general of the Chittagong Range of Bangladesh Police.

DIG Nur-e-Alam Meena made the observation on Thursday after visiting the spot in Ruma and two policemen injured during the robbery.

“The bank robberies in Ruma and Thanchi appear to be of similar nature and committed by the same ring. The robberies were planned,” the police officer said.

“Banks have more money in their vaults as there are several festivals in April, and the robbers tried to take advantage of that,” he added.

The initial attack occurred on Tuesday night at the Sonali Bank branch in Ruma, where the assailants not only looted cash but also looted 14 weapons and abducted manager Nizam Uddin, whose whereabouts remained unknown.

At around noon on Wednesday, armed men stormed Sonali Bank and Krishi Bank branches in Thanchi and grabbed cash and mobile phones belonging to both customers and bank personnel before making their escape.

These incidents have sparked concerns regarding public safety, leading to heightened security measures across the district.

Banking operations in all upazilas excluding Bandarban Sadar have been suspended on security ground.

In response to security concerns arising from these incidents, all banks in six upazilas, except the Bandarban Sadar branch, have been closed.

Security has been beefed up across the district in a bid to allay people’s fears caused by these events.