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Gunmen kill five polio workers in Pakistan


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A rescue worker checks blood-stained forms belonging to Nasima Bibi, a female worker of an anti-polio drive campaign who was shot by gunmen in Karachi. Pakistan is one of only three countries where the highly infectious crippling disease remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.—Reuters Photo

KARACHI: Gunmen shot five health workers on an anti-polio drive in a string of attacks in Pakistan on Tuesday, officials said, raising fears for the safety of workers immunizing children against the crippling disease.

Video: Polio in Pakisan: Rejecting, reforming and reasoning

Four were killed in three different incidents in the port city of Karachi and the fifth in the northwestern city of Peshawar, on the second day of a nationwide three-day drive against the disease, which is endemic in Pakistan.

All of the victims were Pakistanis working with a UN-backed programme to eradicate polio.

Sagheer Ahmed, the health minister for Sindh province said he had ordered a halt to the anti-polio drive in the city in the wake of the shootings.

The first incident occurred in Karachi’s Landhi area where unknown assailants opened fire upon a polio team, killing two female members of the team. Police told DawnNews that there were no eyewitnesses of the incident.

The relatives of the deceased said there was no police accompanying the polio team when the incident occurred.

The second incident occurred in the Raja Tanvir Colony in Karachi’s Orangi Town area where another polio team was attacked by unknown gunmen. The in-charge of the team, Dr Shafiq, said one female worker was killed on spot while a male worker was seriously injured in the firing. He was shifted to a hospital for treatment where he succumbed to his in juries.

A third polio team, sent by provincial health ministry, was attacked in Mochko area’s Mohammad Khan Colony. One female worker was killed and another male worker was injured in the attack.

The team had received telephone calls warning workers they would regret helping the “infidel” campaign against polio, said health official Gul Naz, who oversees project in the area where the women were shot.

In Peshawar, which lies close to the restive tribal areas, a haven for militants and hotspot for polio, two attackers on a motorbike fired on two sisters working on vaccination, killing one, senior police official Javed Khan told AFP.

The incident took place in Mathra suburb of Peshawar which borders Mohmand tribal district, Khan said.

Hayat blamed “militants who issued a fatwa against polio vaccination in the past” for the Karachi killings.

On Monday, police said a gunman killed a volunteer for the World Health Organization’s anti-polio campaign was shot dead on the city outskirts in Gadap Town.

Earlier in July 2012, a local paramedic associated with the polio vaccination was shot dead and a World Health Organisation doctor, Fosten Dido, from Ghana along with his driver were wounded in two separate attacks in the Sohrab Goth area.

WHO, a partner in government efforts to eradicate the disease, suspended vaccination activities in part of Pakistan’s largest city in July after a spate of bloody shootings.

In July, a local paramedic associated with the polio vaccination was shot dead and a World Health Organisation doctor, Fosten Dido, from Ghana along with his driver were wounded in two separate attacks in the Sohrab Goth area.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where the highly infectious crippling disease remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Comments (85) Closed

AHA Dec 19, 2012 12:57pm
Hatred can stop only if the source that is constantly fanning it is somehow controlled. Tall order.
Saeed Dec 18, 2012 10:47pm
Pakistan start polio vaccine and Islam stop it. Make your decision which one is failure
rkk Dec 18, 2012 08:22pm
we should salute these health worker for accepting this job in spite of the known situation. May God rest their soul in peace and help their families to be patient. Being targeted in these particular areas indicates local authorities for actions to be taken, else there will be surprise night visits by invader on their helicopters and the nation will again doubt for its country's sovereignty.
MBA Dec 18, 2012 04:29pm
I understand the frustration but army rule has not been a good medicine anywhere in the world. What Pakistan need is more social courage: PINPOINT the CULPRITS as mentioned by other firends.
Mariam jan Dec 18, 2012 11:37am
I always said that Until America is in the region this insecurity will remain the same, before invasion of America and Nato everything was ok
Ali Dec 18, 2012 08:14pm
The extremists consider the Polio drive as a way to gather information on them by the western backed forces due to the whole SHakil afridi incident in Abbottabad where he was using the Polio drive to get DNA samples backed by the CIA. ALso, the fanatics have made life miserable on th eother hand by preaching that the west is providing these polio drops to Muslims so they become infertile and cannot reproduce:) as you can see, there is a problem on either side...however, killing people because of this is barbaric and terrorism of the extreme use blaming the govt. for only blame those who have the ability or intellect to do something but don't....this crop of rulers we have now are not only incompotent but illiterate, medivial and corrupt to the core....please don't waste time expecting anything from them!
Bharat Dec 18, 2012 11:07am
Fight Polio is a life saving boon for childrens and upcomming generations. Inhuman acts by terrorists. Extremely Sorry for the volunteers.
Nisha Rai Dec 18, 2012 11:12am
I see no choice but to stop the polio vaccination drive. Sad!
RAo Dec 18, 2012 11:08am
I hope the Government and all concerned realize how hopeless the situation is! When do you want to see a change? Does anyone have a vision for safety of common people?
From Heaven Dec 18, 2012 11:08am
Is vaccination anti-islamic?
Imran Dec 18, 2012 09:07pm
It will take a lot more than this. The terrorists cannot break us. The day we bend to the terrorists will be the day we fail.
Pradeep Dec 18, 2012 01:05pm
That's bad news for the Country and the World.
Lal Dec 18, 2012 03:31pm
Seriously, you guys are soo messed up.
Syed Imran Ali Dec 18, 2012 12:22pm
This is for the sake of our children we must reunite and anybody who knows please point out the culprits because only we can do it , our rangers and police are puppets........
Syed Imran Ali Dec 18, 2012 12:25pm
First of all my deeply and heartly condolence from the familes of victims may their soul rest in peace.....
AAK Dec 19, 2012 02:58am
Even the army has become a standing spectator while Pakistanis die every day. Shame on them all.
Mohammad Ali Khan Dec 19, 2012 12:26am
Merely feeling sorry is not enough.The root cause lies within Pakistanis.It is time for all Pakistanis to re evaluate their beliefs and reject irrationality and fanaticism.Don't ask others,ask yourselves how can you get rid of the fanatic within you.
Mashman Dec 18, 2012 07:56pm
What do we need to wake us from our slumber. How many more innocent lives have to be lost to this madness. Religious fanaticism and hatred is a world devouring fire that no one can quench. .
Praty Dec 19, 2012 01:41am
cannot bliv some ppl actally disliked the above comment of tanwir syed. really what does polio vaccine anything to do with america? its pakistan's future thts in jeopardy if kids are not vaccinated!
Ehsan Dec 19, 2012 01:01am
i don't understand why do anyone want to kill the polio workers. Is it something personal or are these attack carried out by islamic militant or the pharmaceutical companies themselves?
Mohammed Dec 18, 2012 11:44pm
We are beating around the bush, it is not polio or USA or Taliban and or any other excuse. Pakistan is in the clutches of its own enemy the RULERS, in one way or other. They are also ignorant if the country does not survive they will also not continue to rule? God bless all of us.
Ignorantme Dec 18, 2012 10:21pm
Dear Taliban brothers, Kill all healthcare workers and terrorize them. Let they not dare to enter your bastion anymore. Don't let your children vaccinated for polio or other disease. Its OK. Also, you guys don't go to hospitals or seek medical treatment when hit by bullets! Live your lives your way! God is eagerly waiting you all send you to heaven. Good job! Keep it up. You will bring name and glory to ISLAM! Long live Islam.
Rajiv Dec 18, 2012 09:54pm
inject polio virus into these killers and then ask them if they want the vaccine or bullet ?
Fatamees Dec 18, 2012 09:09pm
Army (actually some Generals') rule cannot solve any problems. Generals have ruled openly or covertly for almost whole of Pakistan's life. You have more problems now compared to mid 1950s when they started dictating to the civilian governments. But Pakistan Army overall is a great resource,a system-based organisation,and a valuable asset of Pakistan. The present govt /civilian set-up lacks experience and training in governance,and are PRESENTLY dominated by short-sighted incapable,corruptible individuals. But still keep the process going for us to learn to choose. For now ,the govt should show sincerety,honesty ,dedication;for this problem ,assign army units also ,besides the police force, to fight and eradicate the terrorists ,but under the command of civilian govt.
S.S.VERMA Dec 18, 2012 10:19pm
Not merely a failed state but also a failed society and a failed economy.
Ramakrishna Ps Dec 18, 2012 02:33pm
Hope Pakistan comes out of the Stone Age attitude! Live and let live! Live healthily! No religion on earth wants you crippled as in Polio! Who are these fanatics and zealots who condemn us to suffer? Hope the optimistic populace encourage life and thrive!
Tanwir Syed Dec 18, 2012 12:57pm
What does Polio vaccine has to do with America?
Dr Khan Dec 18, 2012 08:02pm
you are always wrong.
Imran Dec 18, 2012 09:02pm
Dont drag islam into this. The militants look for soft targets for maximum impact. They have to justify the attack so give such lame excuses as the volunteers being agents of infidels etc etc.
Ali Dec 19, 2012 12:40am
Why rest of the Pakistan is silent on these violent, brutal and non sense killings. We are sleeping!!!! It's extremely sad to see human right violations, and brutal & violent killings of innocent people on day to day basis.
asharhakim Dec 18, 2012 07:48pm
what a doomed nation
Dr Mustafa Shaikh Dec 18, 2012 10:57am
this shows the height of militancy and religious fanaticism in pakistan.I believe that WHO is left with no option but to put travel ban on Pakistanis as all pakistanis are potential carriers of Polio,and hence a danger to the rest of the Polio free world.
Danial Dec 18, 2012 06:38pm
Shooting in Connecticut killing 20 children and 6 adults ..... whats your stance on US being a failed state ? Think before you write
Waqas Dec 18, 2012 06:57pm
Why is there no fatwa in favor of Polio vaccination?
Anony Dec 18, 2012 06:16pm
Dr Mustafa Shaikh Dec 19, 2012 12:11pm
did you go to primary school?
kabli Dec 18, 2012 06:02pm
a child is a so pure for any country we should get united and lets make future together
omar khan Dec 18, 2012 05:55pm
Great job, keep up the good work !!! I can guaranty heaven to the militants who issued the fatwa & the shooters. Also can guaranty hell fire to workers who were immunizing little children & died.
Dr Mustafa Shaikh Dec 18, 2012 01:17pm
this is so daft.what america is to do with antipolio campaign?pakistanis are the nation who believe in conspiracy some rationale please.
Indian Dec 18, 2012 05:32pm
These terrorists are not only destructing the present, but the future also.
Mr.T Dec 18, 2012 05:33pm
What do you expect from wild animals, people and media stop calling them taliban or humans anymore. Also this their anger, coz one of polio doctor was involved in the caught of osama...
Ahmed Dec 18, 2012 12:47pm
Very Very Tue
Mehdi KaramAli Dec 18, 2012 05:28pm
Why everything in Karachi. The fatwa was issued in Tribal area. Is a part of big story? Someone again to make it link with Talibanisation?
Rajesh Dec 18, 2012 05:18pm
When was everything ok in Pakistan?
Uzma Ahmed Dec 18, 2012 05:01pm
Our country, India, has eradicated the curse of polio few years back. In view of this happening in Karachi, we should continue to immunise the kids mainly in Gujarat,Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir States, at least for a long tme to come, to protect our kids and also to ensure that no Pakistani kid carries the live virus while on a travel in India. Feel very sad for innocent Pakistani kids. It is a proud achievement for India to be Polio-free, from being the polio capital of the world earlier.
dv1936 Dec 18, 2012 12:20pm
Time for Pakistan to wake up. The present regime has been a disaster. Bring back the army rule, if necessary, to give the people a feeling of safety. Innocent people are being killed mercilessly all over everyday.
A Sheikh Dec 18, 2012 01:20pm
Agreed. If US didn't use the fake vaccination clinic to get to Osama, we wouldn't have these innocent workers killed today.
M. Ahmed Dec 18, 2012 05:11pm
Stop blaming America for your own failure. Educate yourself, why cannot you understand its children health. You want sick children who will suffer along with their parents and love ones?
Iqbal Dec 18, 2012 04:51pm
Annihilate south and north Wazirstan, the only solution.
ahmed Dec 18, 2012 04:24pm
Pakistan is heading back to the stone age. Amazing, Pakistan is in the category with Afghanistan and Nigeria for Polio. We are going back drastically.
MBA Dec 18, 2012 04:26pm
My heartly condolence to the families of these brave workers and my condolence also to my poor homeland. There are too many evil forces trying to cripple Pakistan and too few effective instruments and institutes to defend the country against these criminals. We can pray and remain silent but I think the Almighty demands from us to react efficiently to safeguard those who are trying to keep the country upright and healthy. I have seen polio victims in my family some fourty years ago and can not understand the sick minds who are trying to inflicht this desease to our childern.
Ataullah Dec 18, 2012 04:19pm
Very true.
AHA Dec 19, 2012 11:51am
Human values are very low in the prioprity list. The 'afterlife' comes first. This is really sad.
ruksana Dec 18, 2012 12:07pm
Very true what u said.
nasir siddique Dec 18, 2012 12:12pm
Does anyone still consider Pakistan to not be a failed state?
Syed Imran Ali Dec 18, 2012 12:31pm
AHA Dec 19, 2012 12:04pm
Excellent question. We all know the answer, don't we.
Dr Mustafa Shaikh Dec 19, 2012 12:09pm
nuke those areas.only way to get rid of those barbarians.
Puneet Dec 18, 2012 03:46pm
Dont know how much Pakistani's would have shouted expressing their concern for Muslims if ( God Forbid) such incident had happened in India. Being a Muslim majority means that Pakistan doesnt have to answer the questions regarding the plight of Muslims in Pakistan
Faraaz Dec 18, 2012 03:22pm
Have you forgotten Dr.Afridi case?
Haider Dec 19, 2012 10:32am
You seem to belong to the same lot which has passed the fatwas and is attacking innocent women in the name of your version of religion
Life Dec 18, 2012 03:16pm
This must be seen under conspiracy theory. But for sure the polio team would be innocent. May Allah rest their souls in peace.
Haider Dec 19, 2012 10:37am
I agree. There has been a dramatic rise in fatwas and attacks against vaccination campaigns since then.
Sam Dec 18, 2012 03:06pm
I respectfully disagree. Insecurity does not give a person right to kill another. This is the result of no-stop corruption for years and years. Taking someone's life is the worst crime and we cant even punish killers, this is shameful.
ali Dec 18, 2012 03:06pm
Pakistan the only country still having POLIO every country has it under control .... so SAD ... this is extreme level of 'JAHALAT' --- these kids are future & our leaders don't care about them....
Sam Dec 18, 2012 03:03pm
*No one is punished except for poor.
ranganath Dec 18, 2012 02:59pm
Can't belive someone can think even like this. Really sad...
Ricky Dec 18, 2012 02:54pm
Wake up Pakistan
Imran Dec 18, 2012 02:43pm
My dear this is the army who tought you the religion to fight Russia. This conservatism grew during the two army regimes. And you want them back, interesting. I am afraid, this is the army doing all this again, unsettling the political forces in Karachi by promoting religious extremism.
pakistani Dec 18, 2012 02:33pm
if people dont want why these agencies and gov and world so much ready to spread vaccines for free. to impotent the nation on the name of stopping polio they maybe spreading it further if someone want to have polio vaccines he she could have by it's own. Dont implement it as necessary leave it on the choice of the family. then you wont see such attacks
Kashif Khan Dec 18, 2012 02:25pm
We are going down the tube and fast unless our politicians wake up.
Iqbal khan Dec 18, 2012 02:15pm
I agree military is the only solution.
Iqbal khan Dec 18, 2012 02:12pm
What is this obsession against America.First you do wrong things in your country and than you curse America for everything.what kind of people we have become.
shah Dec 18, 2012 02:08pm
Shocking news....May their soul RIP...
Muhammad Farooq Dec 18, 2012 02:07pm
Mariam Jan, in my opinion, even after US and other forces leave the region, these Talibans would continue to attack innocent people of Pakistan in the name of religion and their "religious values" as they want to impose their brand of religion in Pakistan.
AHA Dec 18, 2012 02:06pm
AHA Dec 18, 2012 02:04pm
Too late, in my view.
Truth Dec 18, 2012 02:00pm
For your kind information, all these are incidents are fruits from the army rulers in the past...
AHA Dec 18, 2012 01:56pm
Apparently, it is.
aliya Dec 18, 2012 01:55pm
we are moving to stone age..
raika45 Dec 18, 2012 01:50pm
What is wrong with you Pakistan? You are an enigma that defies all logic in behavior that is really perplexing.Who is in control in your country? WHO personal getting shot?There was no protection for them?
muzammil ullah khan Dec 18, 2012 01:49pm
We are the only nation in the world who want to destroy our own country and maim the new generation . Imagine killing people who want to eradicate polio ! How mad can we be . If I could leave this country I would have abandoned it a long time ago .
Ahmed Dec 18, 2012 01:55pm
I dont want to come back to Pakistan.....I feel bad for the people who live there...
AHA Dec 18, 2012 01:55pm
I am waiting for the apologists to describe how this shooting is justified in the name of
Mj Dec 18, 2012 01:33pm
India is polio free! What about pakistan ?