TAXILA: The anti-polio drive in the rural areas of Hassanabdal was halted when armed men intercepted an anti-polio team and threatened them of dire consequences if they did not stop their activity.

Sources said a polio team in-charge, Tauseef Haider, along with his colleagues was going to the village called Katarian near Kot Sondki of tehsil Hassanabdal.

They said from their dress and language, the men seemed to be Afghans. They were also armed.

After the encounter, the anti-polio staff rushed to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in Hassanabdal and informed the assistant commissioner and executive district officer health.

This sent a wave of insecurity among the polio workers in the region, and the drive was immediately stopped to avert any untoward incident.

Talking to Dawn, the assistant commissioner, Fazal-i-Akbar, said a police team headed by the station house officer (SHO), Saddar circle, was dispatched to the area to look for the suspects, but no one was apprehended.

He also added that the drive resumed after the polio teams were provided with security.

He said the police were utilising all of its resources to get clues of those people who stopped the anti-polio team and threatened them. However, he added, the police will provide maximum facility to the teams working in the area.

When contacted, Executive District Officer Health Dr Mussarat Abdullah confirmed the incident and said the matter was brought to the notice of the local police. He said the anti-polio campaign had resumed after provision of necessary police escort.

He said he himself visited the area and completed the anti-polio drive in the region. He was accompanied by other officials of the health department, under the supervision of an anti-polio monitoring team.

He also said the area where the incident was reported was a rural area, which was mostly dominated by Afghan immigrants or Pakhtuns. The police have registered a case and started investigations.