Thu, 08 May 2003

Police search for Medan bank robbers

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan, North Sumatra

Police here have questioned 12 witnesses and sketched the faces of the perpetrators in the second day of the hunt for the bank robbers of Tuesday's heist which killed two bank employees in Medan.

"We've formed a team and are still investigating the case and are hunting the four perpetrators of the robbery," said North Sumatra Police spokesman Comr. Sr. Amrin Karim on Wednesday.

Two bank employees died, not three as initially reported by The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. The third victim, Joni Purba, was shot in the head but survived and is being treated at Gleneagles hospital in Medan.

The heist occurred outside a branch of Bank Lippo when it was taking in its cash for the day's transactions.

Two of the robbers shot dead the bank's security guard, Syamsuddin Nasution, 44, and a driver Eddi Ridwansyah, 43.

They escaped with Rp 133 million (about US$13,000).

Amrin said that based on witnesses' descriptions, the police were able to draw sketches of the four robbers.

The drawings which were still rough would not be released to the public just yet, he added.

He said that a police team would soon be dispatched from Medan to hunt the perpetrators in neighboring regencies like Labuhan Batu and Langkat.

Bank robberies are common in major cities, targeting mostly customers and employees who withdraw or deposit money.

In several cities, police have offered escorts to deter robbers, and Tuesday's incident occurred without the customary police escort.

Medan Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Bagus Kurniawan blamed the Bank Lippo management for not providing the security guards with weapons.

He suggested that security guards should be given guns to defend themselves. He said that his office would quickly investigate the case.