An intelligence agency has warned of the danger posed by the availability of mobile phone guns in the local market.
An urgent letter from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to law-enforcement and intelligence outfits has warned of the infiltration of the sets, which appear to be normal cellular phones, and could potentially be used to assassinate key individuals.
The news has come as a shock to officials and organisations that have yet to devise a strategy to eradicate the threat.
“These guns are reportedly of European origin and look just like a normal cellular phone but can fire 4 rounds of 0.22 caliber in quick succession using just the keypad,” said an intelligence source citing details of the warning received through the ISI communiqué.
“The guns are available in Peshawar’s Karkhano Market priced at around Rs30,000 a piece. But obviously there are concerns that the supply of these guns to other parts of the country may begin any time, as the weapon is popular among those in the arms business.”
Among other threats, the spy agency sees a serious danger to the lives of senior government functionaries and political leaders. The guns, as the source said, could easily be used as a tool to target people from a very close range.
“Since the gun looks like a cell phone, there is a strong possibility that terrorists may use it in places where they cannot get through with a conventional weapon,” said the source.
The mobile phone guns are believed to have been manufactured in Yugoslavia or Croatia. The antennae of the gutted phones function as gun barrels and the numbers 5 through 8 on the keypad work as triggers. Security experts say the cell phone guns, as well as other improvised explosive devices, can be detected by screening equipment now in use at airports internationally.
“Considering the details of the guns and its improvisation, strict checks have been recommended to keep eye on arms being smuggled into Pakistan,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2012.