Polio worker gunned down in Bajaur


BAJAUR: A union council polio officer of the World Health Organization (WHO) was shot dead by unknown killers in Mamond tehsil of Bajaur district, an official said on Sunday.

35-year-old Abdullah Jan was on way to his home when unknown persons killed him by indiscriminate firing near Umary area and managed to flee the crime scene.

Levies officials reached the spot and shifted the body of the victim to district headquarters hospital Khar in precarious condition but he succumbed to his injuries. The body was shifted to hospital where it was handed over to heirs after postmortem.

The reason behind the killing was not ascertained, however, the district administration initiated an investigation to nab the culprits involved.

This dangerous hostility to immunisation teams flared last week after the spread of rumours, raising a scare on social media that some children were being poisoned and dying from contaminated polio vaccines.

On April 26, the polio eradication teams were attacked in Sindh and Balochistan while a female polio worker was shot and killed in Chaman.

According to police, two men on a motorcycle had attacked a polio team in Chaman’s Sultanzai area, which resulted in Nasreen, a 35-year-old polio worker being killed. Another polio worker, 24-year-old Rashida was seriously wounded in the attack. She was shifted to a hospital in Quetta for treatment.

Meanwhile, in Peshawar alone, about 45,000 children were brought to hospitals. Officials described it as mass hysteria, asserting there had been no deaths confirmed.

It is easy to feed the fears of communities that feel under siege. Just last week, militants shot and killed a medical worker and two policemen guarding other vaccination teams in K-P and Balochistan.

“The mistrust in one segment of society, that refuses vaccinations due to religious beliefs, is translating into the rest of the country, which is something not seen in the past,” Babar Atta, the government’s top coordinator in the drive against polio said.

“I have been vaccinating my own children and will continue to give them polio vaccine till a certain age, but people have some misconception and doubts about the polio vaccine, and the government needs to address their concerns,” Abdul Wasey, secretary-general of Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said.