PESHAWAR: Two members of an independent polio monitoring unit were killed after being kidnapped and held hostage by unidentified men, while a Frontier Corps (FC) official was martyred and two others injured during a search operation in Saifi, Mohmand Agency on Saturday night after the attack.
According to a press release issued by the local administration, a polio team, ‘PCM 6’ accompanied by a driver was on field duty when they were ambushed by unknown men in the evening. The officials, however, said that the team had not informed the concerned authorities before heading out for monitoring. The unit comprised of six members, two of whom were killed while the others were kidnapped. The slain workers were identified as Wajid Khan from Mohmand Agency and Salahuddin Khan from Bajaur Agency. The press release also named the kidnapped officials as Sher Muhammad, Wasif, Aftab and Muhammad Sadiq.
Following the attacks, a massive search operation was launched in the Ghundai area of Tehsil Saifi in Mohmand Agency to recover the missing officials. During the search operation, masked men opened fire on the search party, which martyred one FC official, and others with injuries. FC officials, however, were still able to retrieve some of the missing polio workers along with the bodies of both slain men, but the driver and a polio worker who had managed to escape the abduction attempt by escaping into the fields have still not been found.
After the operation, funerals of the martyred FC personnel were offered at FC headquarters in Ghallanai, which was attended by Frontier Corps IG Major Gen Waseem Ashraf and other high-ranking military officials.
The target population for polio vaccination in the agency was 91,276, while 94,551 children were actually vaccinated during the anti-polio campaign which ended on March 15. The vaccination drive was highly effective, with a success rate of 103%.
Following the search operation, the political administration and police began investigating to determine the attackers’ motive and bring the culprits to justice. Till now the police have arrested 39 suspects.
The administration has however stated that it is still unclear whether the attack on the polio team was as an act of harassment by militants in the area or to halt the polio drive.