Extortionists attack contractor’s home near Wah

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Apr 13, 2014.

Islamabad – The house of a contractor, who had received an extortion demand from a militant outfit just a day before, was attacked with a hand grenade on Friday, according to police.

The contractor works for the Askari Cement plant in the Wah Cantonment and basically provides transportation services to the cement factory as well as working with NATO containers, on the Afghanistan supply route according to police.

His house is located near the cement factory’s residential area between the Wah Cantonment and Hasan Abdal, police said.

According to the authorities, the contractor had received a phone call on Thursday, in which a person who said he was with the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) demanded extortion money.

“The extortionist demanded Rs50 million and threatened the factory manager of adverse consequences,” an officer at the Wah Cantt police station said.

A day later, a hand grenade was hurled at the man’s house. The grenade exploded in the verandah of the house but no one was injured in the attack.

Police said it appeared to be a terrorizing tactic to harass the man in to paying the extortion sum.

Several traders in Rawalpindi district have been at the receiving end of extortion demands and similar grenade attacks at their houses during 2013. The attacks have been claimed by the extortionists in the past as expression of seriousness of their demands.

In reports published previously in The Express Tribune, Rawalpindi traders have admitted to paying millions to extortionists and blamed police for not helping them overcome this menace.

The extortionists mostly use religious affiliations or motives when they demand money, according to traders interviewed in previous reports.

One man was killed in Raja Bazaar in September 2013 for allegedly refusing to pay extortion sums. In some instances, traders in Rawalpindi were forced to relocate from the city to escape the extortion threats.

Wah Cantt police station has registered a case for Friday’s hand grenade attack against unidentified persons under sections 3 and 4 of the Explosive Act.

According to local law-enforcement, police are providing security to the contractor’s house. But they said no arrests have been made yet in the case.

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