Suspicious activities: US embassy warehouse in I-9 sealed

Renovation work over there was in violation of building laws, officials.


Umer Nangiana/azam Khan October 01, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


The Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) on Friday sealed a factory under the use of US embassy in Sector 1-9/3. Some officials said the action by CDA’s building control section came after reports that suspicious activities were underway at the factory.


They said the US officials were turning the building into military bunkers and were also storing items like weapons and surveillance devices there.

Construction at the warehouse was also stopped, after it was declared illegal.

The workers of the US embassy employed at the warehouse were barred from entering the building and the factory building was sealed for further examination of the nature of construction there.

Meanwhile, the US embassy Spokesperson Mark Stroh denied these claims.

“It was a factory which is being renovated to turn it into a warehouse so that we can store extra supplies of furniture and other items of official use of the embassy,” Stroh told The Express Tribune. He added there were no bunkers being built nor any ‘suspicious’ material was being stored in the warehouse.

Ghulam Sarwar Sindhu, the Director General Planning, CDA, when contatced, said the embassy had been served notices earlier. “We had informed them about the violation of the building rules but the embassy did not responded,” he said.

The US Embassy spokesperson, when asked about the notices, said the embassy was in contact with the CDA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to sort out the issue. He maintained that no illegal construction was underway at the warehouse.

“It was only renovation work,” Stroh said. He said the embassy had its own “security arrangements” for the warehouse as diplomats and US embassy employees were working on it.

“No suspicious item was spotted in the warehouse. However, there were covers over certain parts of the building which gave the impressions of bunkers,” he added.

On the future line of action, Sindhu said the CDA will now evaluate the exact nature of the violations and in the second phase the illegal structures will be demolished. He said there were reports that US embassy was carrying out concrete construction in the building which was not allowed under the building code.

A police official said that neither the CDA nor the embassy had approached them with any complaints. “Police were merely informed by the officials of the civic body that the factory was sealed and the US embassy employees would not be allowed to enter it,” he said.

Last year, certain media reports claimed that Kestral Logistics, a company running the controversial warehouse, was a subcontractor of US security company Xe Worldwide (formerly Blackwater) and was involved in arms trading.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2011. 

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