Four polio workers, including three women, were killed and three others injured on Wednesday morning when unknown gunmen opened fire on a polio vaccination team near Quetta’s Eastern Bypass area.
According to police, armed men opened fire at the polio team, killing four people, injuring three. After launching the attack, the assailants escaped from the site of incident. Bodies of the victims were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta for postmortem. Police and Frontier Corps personnel arrived at the scene to investigate the incident. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack as yet.
A polio vaccination campaign was launched amid tight security in 11 districts of Balochistan earlier this month. During the campaign, over 238,000 children below the age of five will be administered polio vaccine.
The districts where the campaign was launched include Quetta, Killa Saifullah, Killa Abdullah, Sherani, Zhob, Pishin, Loralai, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad and Lasbela. At least 10 cases of polio were reported so far from Quetta, Killa Abdullah and Zhob districts of Balochistan this year. Militant groups often attack polio teams as they see vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage. There are also long running rumours about polio drops causing infertility. Balochistan had been polio free for almost more than two years. However, the first polio case was reported from Balochistan’s Killa Abdullah district in July this year.
Refusal on the part of parents remained the underlying factor behind increasing cases of polio in Balochistan. Speaking to a reporter from Civil Hospital Quetta, one of the survivors said that no security arrangements were made for the polio team. “Two men a on motorcycle stopped our car and started shooting. No security arrangements were made,” she said.
“There was a policeman standing in the distance, but he didn’t come to our aid. We called everyone but no one came to our rescue. One man on a motorcycle came and started our car and took us to the hospital,” she further added. -dawn