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A volunteer holds up an empty bullet casing at the site of a gunmen attack on health workers in Karachi on Jan 21, 2014. — Photo by AFP
A volunteer holds up an empty bullet casing at the site of a gunmen attack on health workers in Karachi on Jan 21, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Residents gather at the site of a gunmen attack on health workers in Karachi on January 21, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Residents gather at the site of a gunmen attack on health workers in Karachi on January 21, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Relatives of a female polio vaccination worker, who was killed by unidentified gunmen, mourn outside a morgue in the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center in Karachi Jan 21, 2014. — Photo by Reuters
Relatives of a female polio vaccination worker, who was killed by unidentified gunmen, mourn outside a morgue in the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center in Karachi Jan 21, 2014. — Photo by Reuters
People comfort a woman whose son who was killed by unknown gunmen in Karachi, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014. — Photo by AP
People comfort a woman whose son who was killed by unknown gunmen in Karachi, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014. — Photo by AP

KARACHI: Gunmen killed three health workers taking part in a polio vaccination drive in Karachi on Tuesday, police said, in the latest blow to efforts to stamp out the disease in Pakistan.

After the attacks, the latest in a series of deadly assaults on vaccination teams, the provincial polio workers' association said it was halting operations across Sindh province.

Men on motorbikes opened fire on polio teams in two separate incidents in the Qayyumabad neighbourhood in the east of Pakistan's biggest city.

The attacks came just days after the World Health Organisation warned that Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar was the world's “largest reservoir” of the polio virus.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. Efforts to eradicate it have been seriously hampered by the deadly targeting of vaccination teams in recent years.

“The attackers wearing helmets were waiting for the teams on motorcycles,” a police spokesman told news agency AFP.

Doctor Seemi Jamali, the head of the government Jinnah Hospital, confirmed to AFP that three bodies and two wounded people were taken to her hospital.

Khairun Nissa, the head of the provincial polio workers' association, said vaccinations would stop as a result.

“We will not carry out the campaign from now on,” she told reporters outside Jinnah Hospital. “We have lost lives of our workers today and that will happen again and again.”

Militant groups see vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage, and there are also long running rumours about polio drops causing infertility.

According to the World Health Organisation, Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year compared with 58 in 2012. So far, four new polio cases have been recorded in 2014.

Comments (30) Closed

Ahmed Jan 21, 2014 11:45am

Enough is enough! If the govt has failed and has no interest in the people.....we should take care of it ourselves! My fellow Karacities, please stop firing your weapons in the air and waste ammunition. Find these culprits and save our future generations from polio and these psychos who are working on a foreign agenda!

Syed MN Jan 21, 2014 11:47am

Most incompetent government in the world is Sind Government. Knowing that Talbans are deadly against polio immunization and don't hesitate to kill any one who dare to carry out immunization, why was armed protection was not provided? Sindh government should pay Rs 50 lacs each to deceased family immediately.

ahmar Jan 21, 2014 11:50am

Why they don't they freely provide polio vaccine at easily accessible medical stores and later encourage people avail this option.

asimasim Jan 21, 2014 11:55am

these are not good attributes of taliban and they are doing unjustice.....

M. Ahmed Jan 21, 2014 12:09pm

Police should just shoot these attackers, no need to arrest them

Khalid Jan 21, 2014 03:32pm

I have just one word for these. Animals. Coward, senseless and good for nothing animals. I wonder who is paying them to do this?. My beautiful city has become a terror ground.

mba Jan 21, 2014 03:39pm

WHY they want tosubotage anti-ploio campaign? Who are they? For sure they are enemies of Islam and that of Pakistan: they are trying to mutilate our Kids. I understand, it is very difficukt to safeguard Polio-teams, because of the nature of their work. But we have to find ways to continue with the campaign. Not only our coming generations are at risk, but also our present set-up.It is not only a question of international reputation (which is always important for economical growth). Pakistanis risk to be banned from landing international airports. Rich people, Businessmen, Politicians, Military Generals WAKE UP.

Tariq Mahmood Jan 21, 2014 03:45pm

Very sad. Tragic. May Allah bless the workers.

We will undoubtedly blame Imran Khan as somehow it's his fault.

Thanks Dr. Afridi. You will soon be on your way to our friends in US but our nation will continue to suffer because of your good efforts to help.

Jeeves Jan 21, 2014 03:59pm

It is surprising that self-destructing patriots like Zaid Hamid who blame India for all sorts of terrorist attacks are not putting the blame on India for this.

sabeeh omer Jan 21, 2014 05:11pm

It's a shame on the government that they can't protect the lives and honor of these health workers. If the entire police force is at the security of the Chief Minister and the top officials of government this is to be expected. What has the so called "Operation" yielded? Shame on the government and the security forces.

ali ahmed Jan 21, 2014 05:27pm

How unfortunate it is! What signal are we sending to the rest of the world? That we are uneducated, barbaric, intolerant, and ignorant society.

The most unfortunate part of this issue is ignorance on the part of our religious leadership that has confused poor and uneducated people. They have no idea what kind of damage they are causing to their own people.

When the history of this part of the world will be written, one will form an idea that despite living in 21 century we had a mind of stone-age barbaric man.

Sajid Javed Jan 21, 2014 05:58pm

It is hard to answer the question "what's wrong". When nothing is Right. Rest in peace the unknown sons and daughters of the soil. I SALUTE to your courage and dedication.

Kamal Gupta Jan 21, 2014 06:41pm

The mullahs who oppose the vaccination claim that the medicine has been specially formulated by Israel to render muslims infertile. The fact is that people believe this nonsense. The real disease is that these mullahs hold more sway over people than the government, administration, and media combined.

It used to be like that in parts of U.P. state in India. It took the three pillars - government, admin, and media, plus a massive scale of endorsements and appeals by celebrities and respected leaders, to overcome the mullahs.

M.Saeed Jan 21, 2014 06:45pm

This is almost an attack on the entire world by some alien debilitating/killing virus. Not only Pakistan but the entire world is endangered with the return of Polio, if not eradicated from the face of entire planet. It needs to be countered on a world-war basis.

ak18 Jan 21, 2014 06:52pm

Thanks to the cia and so called 'dr,' shakeel afridi... even genuine aid workers and volunteers are being targeted... CIA's short sighted actions have risked the lives of thousands of volunteers and millions of children... well done USA... thanks a bunch...

noon Jan 21, 2014 07:49pm

@ak18: Wow...just because of 1 person you will make your future generations suffer and then blame it on some third party, its never the fault of our people its always the US,Israel and India nexus,,,please open your eyes before its too late and realize the problem lies with us not some third part.

Khalid Jan 21, 2014 09:05pm

@ak18: People like you are the main reason Pakistan will never progress. You will always blame someone else for the shortcoming in character that is endemic in Pakistan.

Syed Imtiaz Abbas Hussain Jan 21, 2014 09:52pm

Everyone globally are against Talibans / Al Qaida relating to their actions against polio house to house campaign without realizing ground realities. Such moves encouraging Taliban / Al Qaida to do more against humanity.

Since the time their leader was dead due to act of house to house polio campaign, they insist that such house to house polio campaign should be stop as they sense risk and unsecurity. There is nothing harm in this demand.

Government can stop house to house polio campaign which resulted killing of thousands of innocent teachers since years, instead they may do polio campaign in hospitals , clinics and on main roads under tents. For that Taliban / Al Qaida will have no objections.

Just to play in the hands of USA is making our country economy and security weak and giving bad impression for Islam globally. While the foundation of Islam is based on humanity and against terrorism as teach in Quran (of Allah (SWT) and Sunnah of Muhammad (SAW). Even Taliban / Al Qaida had behaved with captive foreigners including ladies so decently that they impressed and few of them have accepted Islam as their religion.

Amir Jan 21, 2014 09:59pm

And India this week was officially declared a polio free country, with no cases reported in over three years.

Vijay@Toronto Jan 21, 2014 10:32pm

@Khalid: Animals? Where have you seen animals gun down other animals, just for the heck of it? Stop insulting animals; they have more intelligence than Muslims.

Iqbal khan Jan 21, 2014 11:38pm

@Khalid: I am just wondering why he didn't say that Israel is behind it?

Gerry D'Cunha Jan 21, 2014 11:57pm

following islam of stone age period - the reason why muslims are backward nations today

Rauf Jan 22, 2014 12:50am

It easy to blame and individual (without tangible prrof) but hard to acknowledge the fact that attackers are ignorant. Attack shows that ignorants have sympathizers all over Pakistan and can hit anyone and never get caught. I do not see Maulanas getting out and help kids and polio teams.

illawarrior Jan 22, 2014 06:47am

before these murderers are executed, they should be forced to work in a children's hospital ward for a month to see firsthand, the suffering of polio victims.

indian Jan 22, 2014 07:41am

@ali ahmed: that the world believes in any case, polio or no polio.

syed Jan 22, 2014 08:28am

@Khalid: please refrain from categorizing them as animals, only human among all other species has evolved to be this vicious and senseless, ironical that they don't believe in evolution either.

Ricon Jan 22, 2014 11:38am

We have lost pakistan.. I am ashamed of this Nation..

Gerry D'Cunha Jan 22, 2014 02:17pm

heartless people who call themself muslims and pray five times a day and do not understand the concept of humanity - other faith and religion condemn their actions in the name of islam.

Masoud Jan 22, 2014 05:30pm

When will action be taken to stop terrorism, when will the gov't act. They are openly & at free will killing innocent peoples & accepting the acts as their own yet the gov't is in a doldrums. Do something now or you may forfeit your chance.

Saima Khan Jan 22, 2014 09:47pm

Greedy Politicians who support Taliban are equally responsible for all these attacks. We need someone like Musharraf who can stand against Taliban. Imran Khan & Jamat Islami should be impeached.