More Polio Vaccinators Attacked


Gunmen opened fire on polio vaccinators in three separate attacks in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday, seriously wounding one, officials said, following the earlier killings of six workers.

Two workers were administering polio drops in a suburb of Peshawar when gunmen on a motorbike rode up and sprayed them with bullets, critically injuring one of them, Jan Baaz Afridi, doctor-in-charge of the immunization campaign in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, told AFP.

Senior police official Asif Iqbal confirmed the attack and said police were investigating the motive and who was behind it.

Two other polio teams were targeted in similar attacks in the towns of Nowshera and Charsadda, police said, but the health workers escaped unharmed. One passerby was slightly injured in Nowshera.

Pakistan, one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic, launched a three-day nationwide immunization campaign, supported by the U.N., to tackle the crippling disease on Monday.

But violence has blighted every day of the campaign so far: one health worker was shot dead in Karachi on Monday and four more were killed in the city with another gunned down in Peshawar on Tuesday.

Efforts to tackle the highly infectious disease in Pakistan have been hampered over the years by local suspicion about vaccination. The Taliban banned immunizations in the tribal region of Waziristan, condemning the campaign as a cover for espionage after the jailing of a doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination program.

2 replies

  1. Difficult to understand what is in the minds of these killers. I recall that in Iraq, at the height of inter-sectarian killings, WHO managed to arrange a cease-fire so that vaccinations of children could take place. They managed without any incidents / casualties (thanks to a very courageous WHO Iraq director, a Lady Doctor from Bahrain).

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