Relatives of a female polio vaccination worker mourn outside a morgue in the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center. PHOTO: REUTERS
KARACHI: Polio teams on Monday came under attack in Karachi, Mansehra and Panjgur for carrying out the vaccination campaign, Express News reported. The attacks left four people dead.
In Karachi, three people – including two female polio workers – were killed and two others sustained injuries in a gun attack.
The team – working without any security – was attacked in Karachi’s Qayummabad area. The injured were shifted to Jinnah hospital for medical assistance.
According to eyewitnesses, four armed men had been waiting in the area for a while and attacked the team as soon as the workers entered the neighbourhood.
The polio campaign was postponed in the city’s East Zone after the attack. The chairperson of the Sindh Polio Workers Association also announced that the association members will not take part in the campaign. “Our workers will not put their lives in danger for Rs250,” she said.
Unidentified armed men opened fire at a polio team in Mansehra and killed one worker. In Panjgur, Balochistan, miscreants snatched away a car from the polio team.
In a separate attack, a worker has also been killed in Oghi, a town in the Mansehra district. The polio campaign in Karachi has been halted as the female health workers have boycotted the campaign in the whole country.
This is not the first attack on a polio team in Karachi. In July 2012, a foreign doctor was injured when unidentified armed men opened fire on a United Nations vehicle passing through Koochi Camp near Sohrab Goth.
Most of the attacks on polio workers in Karachi have been observed to have occurred in the outskirts of the city, areas notorious as militant strongholds.
In July 2012, 45-year-old Dr Ishaq, a doctor associated with the polio prevention campaign of the WHO, was gunned down in alAsif Square in Sohrab Goth. Three consecutive attacks in separate areas of Karachi on December 18, 2012, claimed the lives of four female polio workers and wounded two male workers.
In August 2013, a team of vaccinators escaped unhurt in an attack in Gulshan-e-Maymar when the police exchanged fire with a shooter believed to be affiliated with the Afghan Taliban. He was later arrested.
While in December 2013, law enforcers foiled an attack on a polio team in Sohrab Goth by killing a suspected militant of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
According to Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI), Sindh, seven polio cases were reported in Karachi in 2013, out of which four were reported in Gadap Town.
The deputy project manager of the EPI, Sindh, Dr Duray Naz claimed that two of the children affected by polio died last year in Karachi.