This morning, news of an attempted bank heist in Mazar-e-Sharif hit the wires.
Six Afghan private security guards were beheaded during a bank robbery in northern Afghanistan, police said today.
It appeared that the security guards were poisoned before they were beheaded, said Sherjan Durani, a police spokesman for Balkh province.
He said someone apparently mixed poison into the guards’ food last night at a branch of the Kabul Bank, in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Durani says an unknown number of robbers beheaded the guards and took about $269,000 (£169,000) in US and Afghan currency. Kabul Bank officials declined to comment on the incident until it has been investigated.
In an interesting twist–and it pains me to note that “unrelated to terrorism” is a twist–authorities don’t believe that militants or terrorists were involved. Nor does Mazar-e-Sharif believe it was an inside job (though I’d take that one with a grain of salt):
“This is a criminal matter,” he said.
Officials suspect that an insider was involved in the robbery as the guards’ kebabs had been poisoned beforehand.
A senior security officer told the BBC: “It has the hallmark of an inside job. How do you poison the food of guards without someone inside?”
But Mohammad Afzal Karim, head of Kabul Bank in Mazar-e-Sharif, rejected any suggestion a member of staff could have helped the robbers.
This isn’t really the kind of heist that would make a blockbuster summer movie, but $300k and six dead ain’t chump change either. But it leaves me wondering: is this the point where non-terrorist, non-ideologue criminal elements take root? If you can get away with something as brazen as this robbery, in Northern Afghanistan, I can’t help expecting something worse to come down the pipeline.