CHARSADDA: A volunteer received head injuries when unidentified persons attack a team of polio vaccinators in Shabqadar tehsil of district Charsadda on Monday, police said.

They said that unidentified motorcyclists opened firing on Sajid and Asifullah, who were waiting outside a home in Akbar Ali Qilla locality for their female colleague Gul Rukh, who had gone inside a home to vaccinate children. They said that Sajid received critical bullet injuries in the firing. The injured volunteer was rushed to Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar where he was shifted to intensive care unit.

Militant organisation Jamatul Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack on polio vaccinators. Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesperson for Jamatul Ahrar, issued a statement, saying his organisation was responsible for the attack on polio workers in Shabqadar. Vaccination was against Islam, he added.

“We will release our policy statement on polio vaccine. We will explain in a scientific way as to how it is dangerous to health,” the statement said.

Militants had killed more than 35 people besides causing injures to as many since a campaign was started against polio vaccinators in December 2012, officials said.

Health officials said the security arrangements for anti-polio workers were not up to the mark. It exposed the workers to the attackers, they added.

The anti-polio campaign was suspended in Charsadda following attack on the vaccinators. However, the drive was resumed later.

Health officials said that the deputy commissioner of Charsadda had imposed Section 144 but people were still using motorcycles.

Police said that the assailants dodged them and used alternate route to target the vaccinators.

Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has ordered to beef up security of the vaccinators, a press release said.

An emergency meeting of provincial security coordination committee was held with secretary of home and tribal affairs in the chair after the attack on polio workers. The meeting issued directives to all the district administrations and police to reassess the ground situation and beef up security of polio workers.

Published in Dawn, November 25th , 2014

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