Building evacuation: Bomb hoax keeps Zafar Qureshi from resuming probe

NICL scam investigating officer finds office locked following hoax call. Building cleared by Bomb Disposal Squad.

Asad Kharal August 14, 2011


A bomb hoax call on Saturday kept recently restored Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director General Zafar Qureshi from entering his office at the FIA’s provincial headquarters in Lahore.

Qureshi, who is also the lead investigator of the multi-billion-rupee National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) scam, had called a meeting of the investigation team on Saturday at the FIA office in Lahore.

When he arrived around 12:15 pm, Qureshi found the door locked.

Sources said the hoax call might have been an attempt to disrupt Qureshi’s meeting.

A phone call made to Assistant Director FIA Security Wing Khawaja Hammadur Rehman’s cell phone at 10:07 am from an unidentified number warned him of a bomb planted inside the FIA building, sources told The Express Tribune. The call lasted approximately six to seven seconds, and the caller hung up say: “Whoever wants to save their lives must leave the building immediately.”

The Police Emergency Control and the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) were alerted immediately after the call was received, FIA officials said. Station House Officer (SHO) of the Civil Lines Police Station and the BDS arrived at the scene at around 10:25 am. SHO Civil Lines police station Inspector Abid Rasheed said that the message was conveyed to him at 10:19 am.

Soon after the threat, Rangers and police personnel, including the FIA’s security wing were put on high alert, and no one was allowed to enter the FIA office.

The entire building was evacuated immediately after the threatening phone call, and no members of the media were allowed to enter the premises.

The FIA, Punjab’s office has been attacked twice before. An explosive-laden car had hit the building, killing 26 people on March 11, 2008. Thirteen of those killed were FIA officials.

The same office was attacked again by a suicide bomber on October 15, 2009 who managed to kill six people just outside the premises.

Following the incident, Qureshi rescheduled the meeting on Monday, sources revealed.

FIA’s Punjab Director Waqar Haider left for Islamabad on Saturday morning to meet Interior Minister Rehman Malik regarding the NICL investigation, sources added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2011.