Six polio workers shot dead in Pakistan: Police

Published: December 18, 2012
Three women were killed and a man was wounded in two separate attacks on health workers in Karachi.

Three women were killed and a man was wounded in two separate attacks on health workers in Karachi.

KARACHI: Gunmen in Pakistan have killed six health workers at the start of a nationwide polio vaccination drive, officials said Tuesday, highlighting resistance to a campaign opposed by the Taliban.

Four women were killed in less than an hour in seemingly coordinated attacks in Karachi on Tuesday, a day after a man working on a local government-World Health Organization (WHO) project was also shot dead in the city, police said.

A sixth worker, also a woman, was killed on Tuesday in Peshawar, which lies close to the tribal areas, a haven for the Taliban and other militants who ordered a ban on polio vaccinations in June.

The WHO and Unicef in a joint statement condemned the attack and expressed their commitment to supporting Pakistan in its efforts to rid the country of polio and other diseases.

“Such attacks deprive Pakistan’s most vulnerable populations – specially children – of basic life-saving health interventions,” it said.

“We call on the leaders of the affected communities and everyone concerned to do their utmost to protect health workers and create a secure environment so that we can meet the health needs of the children of Pakistan.”

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, but efforts to tackle the highly infectious crippling disease have been hampered over the years by suspicion.

The Taliban banned immunisations in the tribal region of Waziristan, condemning the campaign as a cover for espionage after the jailing of a doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme.

Sagheer Ahmed, health minister for Sindh, said he had ordered a halt to the anti-polio drive in the city following Tuesday’s shootings.

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

He said one polio vaccination team was attacked in the eastern Karachi neighbourhood of Gulshan-e-Buner.

“They were fired upon by unidentified gunmen who rode away on motorcycles. Two women members suffered multiple gunshots and died on the spot,” he said.

Two women and a man were wounded in two separate incidents in the city’s west, Hayat said, adding that all of the victims were part of WHO-supervised polio vaccination teams. The two women died of their injuries.

In a Peshawar suburb, two attackers on a motorbike fired on two sisters working on vaccination, killing one, senior police official Javed Khan told AFP.

In Waziristan, the Taliban ban – to protest against US drone strikes and because they allege that the polio campaign is a cover for espionage – risks the health of 240,000 children, officials say.

Launching the polio drive on Monday, authorities threatened to punish tribesmen who refuse to allow their children to be inoculated.

Siraj Ahmad Khan, the top official in North Waziristan tribal area, said the punishments would include a ban on monthly stipends to tribal elders, development work, civil service recruitment and issuing ID cards and passports.

Tuesday’s killings in Karachi took place in parts of the city dominated by Pashtuns, Hayat said.

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 shootings.

A UN doctor from Ghana working on polio eradication and his driver were shot in Karachi and three days later a local community worker who was part of the same campaign was shot dead in the same area.

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Reader Comments (52)

  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:09PM

    India eradicated polio and Pakistan is well on way of eradicating polio vaccinations. Pretty much the story of the two countries.


  • Khan of Cape Town
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:30PM

    What a service is being performed for religion by killing poor women!


  • Human
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:31PM

    Dont give these mad crazy people any medications let their children be in this state
    as when they dont care why shud we
    Give & help those who want help


  • Zaffar
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:37PM

    I bet it has something to do with “misinformation” on the composition of the vaccine! BUT this does NOT mean you kill poor health workers. Why does the army do a clean-up operation after a political decision and get rid of this daily killing once & for all. The GOVERNMENT is INCOMPETENT and that is the truth


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:38PM

    It was not clear who was behind the shootings but Taliban insurgents have repeatedly denounced the anti-polio campaign as a Western plot.

    If true, these brave and bold holy warriors are thoroughly misguided.


  • Asim Ali
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:45PM

    What a crazy place this country has become. And we are worried about international cricket? If this is not failure then i dont know what failure is. airbases getting attacked, karachi killings, polio workers getting shot dead, Swedish woman getting shot dead, cricket team getting shot in the bus, bomb blasts every day. And no one has a clue how to get rid of this cancer


  • Hamza
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:49PM

    @Yuri.. You read it wrong, Pakistan is on its way to eradicate anti polio campaign workers not polio itself!


  • T Khan
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:49PM

    Where in Karachi?


  • Fundar
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:49PM

    It’s just getting worse n worse!!!!!!!
    Hate being spread….
    I have no words to say!


  • Dec 18, 2012 - 3:52PM

    I am now wondering if the visa regime is a good thing. What if a polio infected child comes from Pakistan to India? One single virus will bring to nought the decades of work and millions of dollars spent


  • nathan
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:54PM

    Is this for real? How beastly can one get? They want innocent children to get polio?

    Luckily Pakistan has a blasphemy law? how about this? Anybody speaking against polio vaccination should be given death sentence under blasphemy law. After all getting innocent young kids maimed for life is the worst form of insulting God



  • C Me
    Dec 18, 2012 - 3:55PM

    I guess some people thought they were spies; or the people with them were.
    It would be far cheaper and far better to sterilize the locals rather than vaccinate them many people might be led to believe.
    It might come to that if Nukes are out of the question.


  • vasan
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:01PM

    Yuri Kondratyuk. And also eradicating the vaccinators.


  • Hajra
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:10PM

    What the heck is going on?


  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:19PM

    It’s about time that global community banned people, especially Maulana’s, from Polio endemic countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria) entry into their country. Embassy should stop issuing Visa if person does not have a proof of vaccination. Polio Unvaccinated person is nothing but a walking biological weapon incubator who’s main purpose is to introduce the disease in that country. After two years there should be a complete ban on entry of people from Polio endemic country to enter a new country. They can stay in there own paradise. It is high time that the begging bowl should also accept free vaccines provided by UN and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    No one in the country is taking ownership of the Polio. Why can’t President, chief of Army, CJP do 15-20 sec Public Service announcement on TV and newspaper and urge people to get vaccinated.


  • Qaisrani
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:24PM

    Open Polio outlets in every locality rather than going street to street in such areas. Launch awareness campaign for their parents to get their children vaccinated. If they do, it’s ok otherwise put them behind the bars. Let their polio affected children disrespect them when they are grown up to know what had made them disabled.Not being racist, i am sure, in Karachi, these would be Pakhtun dominated areas where they hate anti-polio campaign the most.


  • Pr0udPakistni
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:28PM

    If true, these brave and bold holy
    warriors are thoroughly misguided.

    @ Mard-e-Haq..brave and holy warriors?? they are a curse to this country.


  • Zed
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:31PM

    When will we ashamed of our actions.


  • Adnan
    Dec 18, 2012 - 4:41PM

    Make it mendatory for everyone who applies for the birth certificate to ensure that their kids are vaccinated. BY DOING THIS WE CAN INCREASE THE NO. OF KIDS HAVING POLIO VACCINE INJECTED.


  • True Muslim Paki (An Insafian)
    Dec 18, 2012 - 5:55PM

    Hamza” “@Yuri.. You read it wrong, Pakistan is on its way to eradicate anti polio campaign workers not polio itself!”

    Well Said


  • Helix
    Dec 18, 2012 - 6:44PM

    Disgusting ! There is not a trace of humanity left anymore.


  • Mirza
    Dec 18, 2012 - 10:06PM

    I am not surprised at all. The jihadist terrorists have already taken such actions before but not in an organized way. However, I am surprised that not too many people are making it a foreign conspiracy and indirectly defend terrorists. Nobody brught drone talks either!Recommend

  • iLiberal
    Dec 18, 2012 - 10:21PM

    What a pathetic excuse for a country. And, well in all fairness you cant really blame Islam, even in radicalized countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, people do not behave like this the way they behave here. Maybe the Americans should send B52 bombers armed with nukes rather than drones and do the world and favor. And for the record, I am a Pakistani. There was once a time when we could have taken pride in being a Pakistani. This democracy has absolutely screwed us over. Even God himself cannot bail Pakistan out now as it has become so morally corrupt and rotten.


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dec 18, 2012 - 10:23PM

    It’s very strange that terrorists have started killing women who were engaged in giving polio drops to the children.

    The government must unearth as who are the killers and why they want that polio shoul not be eradicated from Pakistan?


  • Ali
    Dec 18, 2012 - 10:32PM

    A muslim will NEVER kill another muslim. This is the work of CIA,RAW,MOSSAD and blackwater.


  • Sharjeel Jawaid Jawaid
    Dec 18, 2012 - 10:45PM

    Shame on us! Will the Clergy condemn it ?


  • John F
    Dec 18, 2012 - 10:50PM

    It is believed that Richard Armitage said something about taking Pakistan back to the stone age. Looks like Pakistan is doing just that to itself, without any help.
    The sad truth is that many children will suffer from an entirely preventable disease.


  • Syed
    Dec 18, 2012 - 10:54PM

    Killing women and that too that was doing a noble deed. How low will these people go? What will it take for average Pakistanis to wake up? Are they waiting for Aazaab e Elahi?


  • Javed
    Dec 18, 2012 - 11:01PM

    Before Polio is eradicated, the society and especially the military needs to eradicate the biggest cancer plaguing Pakistan i.e. the Taliban. They only understand the language of stick. Hit them hard and hit them relentlessly much like Sri Lanka handled Tamil tigers and Indian crushed Khalsa movement. Stop obsessing over India – other than a failed neighbor and a market for Bollywood we’re no longer a concern for them. Wake up duffer Khaki – wake up.


  • Imad Uddin
    Dec 18, 2012 - 11:03PM

    Human behavior is completely lost. This can not be the fate of Pakistan!


  • salman
    Dec 18, 2012 - 11:14PM

    KP should be given to afghanis,
    Baloch be given independence
    Punjab and Singh either become smaller countries or join India. Pakistan is a mess and I dont want be part of it anymore where killers reign!


  • Praful R Shah
    Dec 18, 2012 - 11:40PM

    Does Pakistan belong in civil society? It appears you have no law and order but anarchy. It is race to the bottom. Why one should have contact with Pakistan? Pakistani national should be administered polio vaccine and allowed to enter any country until the vaccine becomes effective. Your society is race to bottom and no chance of improvement. Only thing your society knows how to kill.Recommend

  • jibran
    Dec 18, 2012 - 11:52PM

    No mullah would condemn this. These shameless creatures love to Brag about the rights of Afia Siddiqi (the terrorist), but not a single word of regret for the tragic murder of the social workers.Recommend

  • Sharjeel Jawaid Jawaid
    Dec 19, 2012 - 12:26AM

    Unfortunately we have reached a stage where we need a ruler like Juna Khan Tughlaq if not Hajjaj bin Yusuf! The fruits of Democracy have turned rotten.


  • Jat
    Dec 19, 2012 - 12:41AM

    ok I know Pakistanis are not going to like it, and call me hateful… but seriously

    Pakistan needs to be quarantined until it rids itself of the various diseases it is inflicted with.

    And Indian Government ? Easier visa regime ? Are you totally out of your mind ? We will hold you personally responsible, each one of you who is in power, if polio makes a comeback in India. You are going to be caged if even a single Indian child falls prey to polio.


  • Jat
    Dec 19, 2012 - 12:44AM

    @Imad Uddin: Human behavior is completely lost. This can not be the fate of Pakistan!

    Unfortunate I know, but it already is… and you people do nothing and keep waiting and waiting, for God knows what…


  • Khalq e Khuda
    Dec 19, 2012 - 1:42AM

    To most of the above:

    President, PM and Aseefa Zardari continuously issue advertisements and statements to support the campaign. The religious lot does not. The media on the other hand does not condemn the mullahs who openly talk against polio campaign and pounce on the government as soon as something like this happens.

    Unless Pakistani middle class and media stop their unceasing support to Taliban school of thought polio will not be eradicated and Pakistan will never progress.


  • imran bhatt
    Dec 19, 2012 - 1:44AM

    Is there any limit to low that Pakistan not to sink to?


    Dec 19, 2012 - 1:47AM

    i donot know why all the commentators are so angry and hateful,,,,,,,,,,,,yes its a tragic event,,,,,,,but why and whats the reasons behind,,,,,,,,??when you eat all the money of poors pockets indirectly via taxes and corruption ,and put them in misery ,and NO EDUCATION FOR DECADES ,,,then what can you expect flowers or guns???//donot blame the name maullana or maulvi or islam or muslim etc,,,,,,,THESE ARE THE SEEDS OF ILLETRACY ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,IF YOU WANT TO HAVE CHANGES EDUCATE THE NATION,,,,,,,


    Dec 19, 2012 - 1:54AM

    educate the people and you will forget regret for anything ,,,,,,,,solution to everything is just education,,,,,,,,if one cannot be proud of his country ,he is a miserable depressed creature,,,,,,with no sense of ego and selfrespect,,,,,,


  • Dec 19, 2012 - 2:08AM

    It is sad that Pakistan is among the three countries on the planet which are still dealing with the polio virus, and many children get infected and are crippled for life. It is sad that the health workers, who go door to door to administer polio drops to children of underprivileged families, are targeted and killed. Our heart goes out to the families of those killed, and we condemn this act of senseless violence against those heath workers. They were only out there to save the lives of a few children, and earn an honest living. Those responsible for these heinous acts should be brought to justice, so in Pakistan too children would grow up without the fear of a crippling disease and become productive citizens.

    Abdul Quddus
    DET-United States Central CommandRecommend

  • alpha
    Dec 19, 2012 - 2:09AM

    very bad news.
    you know this is bad because indians, like true enemies, are celebrating and enjoying.


  • Insaan
    Dec 19, 2012 - 2:15AM

    Islam is a religion of peace.


  • Baba Farid
    Dec 19, 2012 - 2:47AM

    India is concerned. Whether it is NewTown in Connecticut or the killing of polio workers in Pakistan, the death or suffering of children and innocents is a human tragedy and our hearts should weep for it. If possible India and other aid working countries should please consider setting up anti polio or other vaccinations like measles, mumps and rubella etc. camps near Wagah border and other entry points for parents of unvaccinated children to get their polio shots under safer conditions. Now since the visa regime is being eased, provisions for medical treatment related travel should be given top priority. As for those who were called to their maker, our prayers for their souls: Inna lillahi Wa inna ilaihi Rajioon.


  • Iftikhar Khan
    Dec 19, 2012 - 2:59AM

    Those of us who are survived so far may not stay safe If these barbarians are not brought to justice. They will not spare anyone


  • FJ
    Dec 19, 2012 - 3:03AM

    These Talibani termites will eat all of us due to ANY reason…such as either because we are shia or we want to go to school or we are trying to save kids from polio etc etc . All we can do is sit and wait for either our or our generation’s turn to be the next target!!


  • Rafi Ka Deewana
    Dec 19, 2012 - 3:12AM

    @alpha: “you know this is bad because indians, like true enemies, are celebrating and enjoying”
    Do you really think the Indians want the children of whichever country get polio and suffer all their lives? Please don’t sink this low.Recommend

  • Rajesh
    Dec 19, 2012 - 3:25AM

    @alpha – “very bad know this is bad because indians, like true enemies, are celebrating and enjoying.” – No sensible Indian is celebrating. In fact, a stable and progressive Pakistan free of terrorists and Taliban is in India’s self interest. We’d much rather prefer economic development in South Asia than the rampant terrorism and intolerance which in the long run may engulf the whole of South Asia.


  • jugnoo
    Dec 19, 2012 - 8:12AM

    Unfortunately this is the consequence of mixing religion with every aspect of life. Pak society is now fully immersed in religion in such a way that what ever they do must be carried out in light of religious guidelines.


  • Andleeb
    Dec 19, 2012 - 9:00AM

    @JAHANDAD: “…solution to everything is just education…”.
    What education? to hate? distort history? Saudi Madarsa education? Kill Shias? Desecrate Ahmedia graveyards? Hate and burn Churches, temples? Which education? Even Kashmiris, Afghanistan, Balochistan or Bangladeshis dont want us. No one in the world wants us, maybe only Sudan. Let us go and share our Polio with them and make a nice Islamic country with atam bombs. You dont even have the shame to cry.


  • Andleeb
    Dec 19, 2012 - 9:08AM

    Same Taliban which was our heroes and light of Islam to free Kashmir? Our strategic assets ? Maybe our Military should give Polio drops. For once they will earn their salary.


  • Dec 19, 2012 - 12:40PM

    the taliban and the moulvis talking against polio vaccination should be held solely responsible for this

    and they should be forced to pay for the healthcare for every child suffering from polio


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