In a move that adhered to the recent surge of attacks on groups administering vaccines across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, a polio team was openly assaulted in Landi Kotal tehsil on Wednesday.
Unidentified men, alleged to be militants, violently confronted the team of three workers, beat them and snatched their vaccination kits.
Adnan Khan, a resident of Pero Khel, was one of the three workers. While relaying the incident to the political administration office, he said the team was entering a residential area of Pero Khel, Angor Bagh, when three masked men intercepted them and started hitting them, all the while asking why they were vaccinating children in the area.
According to Khan, the men put knives to their throats and warned that if they attempted to administer vaccines in the area again, they would be killed. Then, the assailants took all their equipment and left.
“We rushed out of the area after the incident,” said Khan.
Shakeel Barki, an official of the Landi Kotal administration, said he had started an investigation right after the incident was reported. However, his meeting with the tribesmen of the area did not bear fruit as everyone expressed complete ignorance of any workers being beaten nearby.
Barki added that eight suspects have been arrested under the collective responsibility clause of the Frontier Crimes Regulation.
Additionally, the three polio workers have also been told to work under extra security measures provided by the area’s administration.
However, the fear lurks on. After the incident, all polio workers in the tehsil have boycotted administering vaccinations to children.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2013.