4 killed, 3 injured in attack on polio team near Quetta

Published: November 26, 2014
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A policeman inspects the van after an attack on female polio health workers in Quetta on November 26, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

A policeman inspects the van after an attack on female polio health workers in Quetta on November 26, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

A policeman inspects the van after an attack on female polio health workers in Quetta on November 26, 2014. PHOTO: AFP A file photo of a polio vaccinator administering drops. PHOTO: APP

QUETTA: Four polio workers – including three women – were shot dead and three others wounded in a targeted attack on their vehicle in Eastern Bypass area near Quetta on Wednesday morning.

“The team was on its way to the assigned union council after collecting polio vaccines in Killi Ahmzai area when armed men on motorbikes intercepted their vehicle on Link Road of Easter Bypass,” said an eyewitness, adding that masked men first shot the woman campaigner in front seat and then opened indiscriminate fire on other workers sitting in the back of the pickup.

The polio teams were carrying out an emergency campaign in the outskirts of Quetta and had informed New Saryab Police Station about it.

A senior police official at the police station said the polio workers started their vaccination campaign without waiting for security personnel – assigned for their safety – to arrive.

The attackers managed to flee from the scene after the deadly attack.

Medics at Civil hospital, Quetta said two bodies and five injured were brought in of whom two succumbed to their injuries soon after. “Three young women and a man were killed while three are injured,” the medics confirmed.

An injured woman said the driver fled the scene when the firing started, and the attackers managed to flee from the scene as well.

“Two bodies and five injured people were brought to the hospital, in which two were in critical condition who later succumbed to their injuries,” Dr Noor Baloch told The Express Tribune.

“Most of the victims, who were in their 20s, were shot in the head and chest in order to ensure their death on spot,” he said.

An injured woman, recounting the incident said, “As the man started firing, I cried for help but there was nobody. I fainted and found myself at the hospital when I opened my eyes.”

Police said the polio workers were attacked when they were on their way to the union council to start the campaign.

“They had not resumed their duties and were targeted when they were on their way to the assigned union council,” said SP Saryab Police Imran Qureshi.

The deceased – who were all volunteers and residents of Quetta — were identified as Hamida Khawaja Khail, Sania Bangulzai, Hameeda Bangulzai, Ijaz and the injured can be identified as Freeda, Sumera and Salma Ijaz.

The Balochistan government assigned two policemen to each polio team due to the prevailing security situation and threats to lives of anti-polio campaigners in the province.

Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, while speaking to Express News, said these attacks cannot dampen his government’s resolve to completely eradicate the crippling disease.

Condemning the deadly attack, the chief minister said the government will help the families of the deceased and those injured in these trying times.

Speaking about providing adequate security to polio workers, Baloch said the government is committed to ensure safe vaccination campaigns in Balochistan, however, the province is huge which makes matters difficult to manage.

This is the second attack on health workers in Quetta in 2014. Earlier, unidentified persons attacked a vehicle used by polio team with a hand grenade in Pashtunabad area, predominantly Afghan refugees’ settlement area. However, no one was hurt in the attack.

“It is the second incident in this area during the last two years. Law enforcing agencies have been directed to ensure the arrest of the culprits involved in this heinous crime,” Home Secretary Balochistan Akbar Durrani told The Express Tribune.

“The security lapse is being investigated,” Durrani said.

It is pertinent to mention here that at least 14 cases of the crippling virus were reported in Balochistan — 13 cases were detected in the Quetta zone which comprises Quetta, Qila Abdullah and Pishin.

In the last campaign there were around 10,000 refusal cases, and the health department said majority of them had been covered or the people had been persuaded to have polio drops administerered.

Polio workers face threats to their lives in Quetta while participating in door-to-door campaigns.

There have been no claims of responsibility for the attack.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (14)

  • Usman Masood
    Nov 26, 2014 - 10:56AM

    I request to express tribune , do not have to publish every negative news on facebook page , please leave some self respect for our country Thanks

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  • Old Ravian
    Nov 26, 2014 - 12:42PM

    Targeting polio workers means easy publicity, locally and internationally. The media obliges the miscreants.

    Recommend

  • Zubair
    Nov 26, 2014 - 12:46PM

    @UsmanMasood: If you cannot face the truth please close your eyes and chant “All is well”.

    Recommend

  • Asad
    Nov 26, 2014 - 1:17PM

    My Heart goes with the family members of these martyrs. We owe them beyond our imaginations. We need to realize that these people and our army men are fighting for us so that we live a secure and healthy life. Shouldn’t we value any body who makes up their mind to ready to sacrifice their own lives for us? Hats off

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  • Nov 26, 2014 - 1:58PM

    The Police is lying. The polio team waited 3 hours for the
    police. The police did not show up.

    Recommend

  • Kinti
    Nov 26, 2014 - 2:07PM

    I look forward to the day when Pakistanis are banned from entering other countries due to polio.

    @Usman Masood:
    Why facebook only? This website is accessible around the world as much as facebook is. That’s the power of the internet.

    Recommend

  • Baba Farid
    Nov 26, 2014 - 3:02PM

    I would accept this news, no matter how negative it is, only for the sake of the true heroes and heroines of this country who are prepared to even give up their lives to see that a child is not crippled by this dreaded disease making a resurgence in this part of the world. My heart and prayers go out for them and their families. Please could the community and religious leaders speak out on their behalf and on behalf of the innocent children who would otherwise fall helpless victims to this scourge! It is true what they say, ‘we see the stars only when the sky is darkest.’ May the light of compassion and wisdom from the Almighty illumine the hearts and minds of the ignorant and deluded killers.

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  • US Centcom
    Nov 26, 2014 - 4:56PM

    We send our heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families. Words cannot express the brutal nature of this crime. We hope to see the culprits caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

    Ali Khan
    DIgital Engagement Team, USCENTCOM

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Nov 26, 2014 - 5:50PM

    Murderers of Polio Team are worst enemies of humanity, Islam and Pakistan. They should be found at any cost and handed over exemplary punishments. Also Police and Government are equally responsible. Shame on them for not protecting these workers.

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  • Last Word
    Nov 26, 2014 - 7:32PM

    It is tragic that these polio workers who are working for the welfare of Pakistan are being targeted by the ignorant and misinformed terrorists. This work should be undertaken by the para-military forces as too many innocent lives have been lost for a good cause.

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  • Good Ni
    Nov 26, 2014 - 9:51PM

    These killers are scum. People trying to stop the spread of a horrible disease are gunned down, because of their ridiculous religious beliefs. Sad.

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  • Naresh
    Nov 26, 2014 - 11:29PM

    @US Centcom:
    We hope to see the culprits caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
    Ali Khan
    DIgital Engagement Team, USCENTCOM

    .
    Chance would be a fine thing.
    .
    Cheers

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  • japani
    Nov 27, 2014 - 8:39AM

    @US Centcom:
    We hope to see Bush caught and punished to the full extent of the law.

    Recommend

  • Umrao Jan
    Nov 29, 2014 - 10:20AM

    Pakistan must be darkest place on earth – close behind all other Islamic countries.

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