Two cops guarding polio teams slain

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Three people including two policemen killed in two separate incidents in Loralai in Balochistan and Ratodero in Sindh

A Balochistan Constabulary officer guarding female anti-polio campaigners was shot dead in Loralai, a district northwest of Balochistan, while in a similar fashion two people including a cop were killed in Ratodero, sub-division of Larkana, on Thursday.

In Larkana, unidentified men fired shots at polio vaccination team, killing two people including a policeman who was providing security to a team of anti-polio workers.

LORALAI INCIDENT:

In Loralai, two armed men opened fire at the officer who was standing outside a house on Quetta Road, where campaigners were administering polio drops to children.

According to Loralai Assistant Commissioner Miran Baloch the officer died after he was shot six times in his chest.

TARGETED WHO?

Eyewitnesses say that the armed men wanted to terrorise the anti-polio campaigners, however the assistant commissioner and deputy commissioner of Loralai have categorically rejected that the assailants specifically targeted anti-polio campaigners.

“The armed men wanted to snatch the official weapon from officer. He was shot dead because he was resisting,” said Miran adding that it was a case of weapon snatching.

Responding to a query, Miran said the anti-polio drive was continuing without any problem. “The incident took place on the third day of the anti-polio drive in Loralai,” he added.

TARGETING WHO?

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Pakistani Taliban have repeatedly targeted health workers who are vaccinating against polio, accusing them of being spies.

Amidst the exchange of official statements, bodies of the deceased were shifted to respective local hospitals for autopsy.

This was the second incident in which anti-polio campaigners were targeted in Balochistan as earlier, a polio team was attacked with a hand grenade in Quetta at the end of 2013. However, no one was hurt as the workers managed to throw back the grenade.

Quetta and the northern part of Balochistan have been declared sensitive zones for the outbreak of polio.

Although there has not been a single case of the virus emerging for the past 15 months, experts say it may come back if the anti-polio drive becomes ineffective again.

The violence has seriously hampered the immunisation campaign in Pakistan, which is one of the three countries in the world where polio is endemic.

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