A day after four polio vaccinators were shot dead in Karachi, police killed two suspects and apprehended six others in the Qayyumabad neighbourhood of the city on Wednesday.
Acting on information gleaned from a suspect arrested from the Quaidabad area on Tuesday, police launched an operation in Sohrab Goth Wednesday morning. The militants holed up in the area put up stiff resistance for three hours, according to police.
The militants managed to escape under the cover of heavy fire. However, their escape was short-lived, as police pinned them down in Qayyumabad area. In the ensuing gunfight, two militants were killed and six were taken into custody.
Police recovered weapons, vehicles and several documents, including passports and identity cards, from the militants. Police also found a note from the pocket of one of the slain militants which confirms their involvement in Tuesday’s attacks on polio workers in Karachi.
Talking to The Express Tribune, District East Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Shahid Hayat said the Urdu-language note, written by a certain Abdul Sattar, states: “Respected Ameer Sahib… as per your instructions, we have targeted the workers involved in the [anti-] polio campaign and succeeded in foiling their move … The remaining tasks will be fulfilled as well.”
“This note proves that these militants were involved in the attacks on polio workers,” said DIG Hayat.
The family of one the deceased militants identified him as Abdul Sattar at an Edhi morgue. They staged a protest outside the morgue, claiming Sattar had been arrested on Tuesday and then killed in a fake encounter by the police.
DSP Qamar Ahmed, however, denied the family’s account while confirming the identities of the deceased terrorists. He told The Express Tribune that Sattar had been involved in several killings of policemen, prior to Tuesday’s attacks.
Meanwhile, police rounded up over three dozen other suspects from different parts of the city in operations conducted overnight following the attacks.
Sindh govt suspends campaign
Meanwhile, the Sindh government has postponed the polio vaccination campaign in the province for an indefinite period, following Tuesday’s attacks on female inoculators.
Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed, meanwhile, defended the lack of security arrangements for the targeted polio workers, claiming that the government had not received any complaint from the areas where the attacks took place.
According to him, pre-campaign meetings are held before the start of any polio drive. In addition to health department officials, both police and town administration officials participate in the meeting to identify any threats and challenges, respond to any complaints and adopt appropriate measures.
“The government provides security to polio vaccination teams wherever such threats exist, but we did not receive any complaints from those areas,” said Dr Sagheer. He added that arranging security for 15,555 polio workers was no easy task. (With additional reporting by Sameer Mandhro)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2012.
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