DERA ISMAIL KHAN: A policeman on polio duty was martyred and two of his colleagues were injured on Tuesday after an improvised explosive device (IED) was set off through remote control in the Madi area of Dera Ismail Khan, officials said.

Captain Wahid Meh­mood, the district’s police chief, said a police van had been targeted in the incident. “It was an IED explosion in which one of our policemen got martyred while two others were wounded,” he told AFP.

The attack came a day after a nationwide anti-polio drive was launched in the country — one of only a few countries where the crippling disease remains endemic.

The blast was so strong that Constable Mohammad Riaz was killed on the spot and Constable Shakeel and driver Attaullah were critically injured. Both were shifted to the district headquarters hospital in Dera Ismail Khan.

According to the bomb disposal unit, the explosive device was made locally. The Counter Terrorism Department registered a First Information Report against unknown terrorists.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Pakistani Taliban and other militants have targeted polio vaccinators in the past.

The latest attack took place as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres — who is in Pakistan on a three-day visit — met workers of the polio programme.

“My appeal to all leaders, religious leaders, community leaders, is to fully support the government of Pakistan to make sure that we will be able to fully eradicate polio,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2020