KOHAT: A policeman guarding a polio vaccination team was martyred after some assailants fired at him in the Thall Behzadi area of Kohat city on the third day of a five-day polio campaign in Khyber Pakhtunkwha on Sunday.
The police official, Syed Sajid Hussain, sustained gunshot wounds and was rushed to the KDA teaching hospital, where he died.
Polio vaccinators escaped unhurt.
Shortly after the attack, the area was cordoned off and an operation was launched to trace the culprits, said Kohat District Police Officer Sohail Khalid. Police sources said the attackers could be seen fleeing after opening fire in CCTV footage obtained by the investigators. The operational and investigation teams along with the DPO arrived at the crime scene soon after the incident.
Hussain was accompanying the team of vaccinators who were administering polio drops to children by the roadside in the area when the attackers opened fire at him and fled. They said the official suffered gunshot wounds and was taken to a nearby hospital.
The DPO said he had directed the investigation teams present at the crime-scene along with him to collect all evidence and clues. He explained eyewitness accounts were also being recorded, as inquiry had been launched to examine all aspects related to the case.
The police officer expressed the hope that the attackers would be arrested soon.
In the meantime, security of polio teams had been further tightened after the incident. In every drive against polio, around 30,000 policemen are deployed to guard the vaccinators.
Since 2012, 40 health workers and 16 policemen have laid their lives in the line of duty during polio vaccination campaigns in the country. Half of such attacks have been carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as 18 polio workers and eight policemen have lost their lives in targeted attacks.
Funeral, case registered
Later, the funeral of the martyr, followed by a salute of honour, was held at the police lines. Kohat division DIG Zafar Ali, DPO Sohail Khalid, SP operations Ziaullah and other officers and personnel attended the funeral. The martyred police official was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard in Sheikhan.
A case was registered by the Counter-Terrorism Department of police under the Terrorism Act.
In recent months, two policemen were assassinated in Mardan, one was targeted in Peshawar, another in Dera Ismail Khan and at least one official was martyred in a deadly attack in Karak. Last year, two lady health workers were murdered in Swabi.
So far, no militant group has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the polio vaccinators and escorting officials.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2021