In the initial investigation report of the killing of polio workers, Peshawar Police on Saturday admitted that a ‘very organised militant outfit’ was involved in the carnage which earlier claimed the lives of nine polio workers across the country.
Previously, the police had termed the killing of 13-year old polio volunteer Farzana the result of a personal feud. But another worker Hilal was killed in Shero Janghi area on the following day. Volunteers were also targeted in Nowshera, Shabqadar and Charsadda.
This compelled the police to focus on the organised manner in which the killings were carried out. The report suggested these were not individual and isolated cases.
Police raided different areas in the outskirts of Peshawar and arrested 15 suspects.
“They are out to resist polio vaccinations in a very organised manner and they are militants without any doubt,” said a police official requesting anonymity. He added that the purpose of the attacks was to cause widespread panic and make their presence felt by choosing soft targets like polio workers.
Concerns regarding a terrorist offensive against polio workers were first raised after Dr Shakil Afridi allegedly used a fake polio vaccination campaign as a cover for determining Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts while working for the CIA.
A health official requesting anonymity earlier said: “If our workforce, which consists of volunteers and poor people, refuse to work, polio eradication from Peshawar will be majorly affected. Forty union councils have already been declared high-risk areas for the disease.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.