Cop escorting polio vaccinators shot dead

Five-day anti-polio drive began on Monday


Our Correspondent April 23, 2019
Polio team attacked in K-P. PHOTO: EXPRESS

PESHAWAR/ LAHORE: A policeman guarding polio workers was shot dead in Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while a worker of anti-polio team was injured in an attack with sharp-edged weapon in the Punjab capital, as the current nationwide campaign against the crippling disease entered the second day.

The five-day anti-polio drive began on Monday, as authorities confirmed two more case of the disease in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, raising the overall number of polio cases to eight – six in the province and one each in Lahore and Karachi.

Police in Bannu said that armed assailants shot dead Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Imran, who had been deputed to guard a polio team in Bacha Khan Chowk on Tuesday. They said that the law-enforcement personnel reached the scene but by then the assailants had escaped.

The police did not immediately comment about motive for the murder. District Police Officer (DPO) Yasir Afridi told reporters that the counter-terrorism department is investigating. Chief Minister Mahmood Khan took notice of the incident and asked for a report from the provincial inspector general of police.

The attack on a polio worker in Lahore took place on Amir Road in Mombay Jhughiyan. Reports said that a two-member team, comprising Fatima Perveen and Luqman Idrees, was busy in the door-to-door campaign, when they engaged in heated argument with the suspect Abdullah over the vaccination appeal.

The suspect got so infuriated that he attacked Idrees with a knife, according to witnesses. The local residents intervened and caught the suspect and handed him over to the police. The injured was admitted in Lahore Mayo Hospital. In his statement to police, the suspect said that “there is virus in polio vaccination which is killing the children”.

The country-wide campaign to administer anti-polio vaccine to children under five years of age is going on in the country and over 39 million children will be given anti-polio drops. Authorities have acquired the services of more than 260,000 health workers for this door-to-door campaign.

Officials said that a total of 20 million children will be administered polio vaccine in Punjab, 9 million in Sindh, over 6.8 million children in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and 2.4 million in Balochistan. In Islamabad, 0.4 million children will be administered anti-polio drops while 0.7 million children will be vaccinated in Azad Kashmir.

Pakistan is one of the three countries where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. In the country, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has reported most of the existing polio case. The two new cases, which were confirmed on Tuesday, are from Bannu and North Waziristan districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Officials said the samples were sent to Islamabad on April 2 for confirmation. The victims are 22 months old boy in Bannu and a two-year-old girl from Miranshah. It is learnt that parents of both the children refused to administer polio drops to them.

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