Health workers under threat: Police foil attack on polio team

"We will continue the campaign not only in Sohrab Goth but in the entire district East," Deputy Commissioner East Samiuddin Siddiqui. PHOTO: FILE

“We will continue the campaign not only in Sohrab Goth but in the entire district East,” Deputy Commissioner East Samiuddin Siddiqui. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Law enforcers foiled an attack on a polio team in Sohrab Goth by killing a suspected militant of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and arresting an alleged commander of the same banned outfit in an encounter on Tuesday.

A team of around 80 polio workers was busy administering vaccines in Ahsanabad when two motorcyclists opened fire around noon. No team member was hurt.

“They wanted to kill polio workers,” said district Malir SSP Imran Shaukat, while talking toThe Express Tribune. “The timely response of the jawans led to the killing of one attacker and the arrest of the other.” The body of the deceased attacker was taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for an autopsy. He was identified as Dwanollah alias Misbahullah and the arrested one as Ameer Hamza. Police officials claimed that the alleged attackers were associated with the TTP. “Hamza was the TTP commander for Jangal Goth in Sohrab Goth,” said SSP Shaukat. Tuesday was the second day of the four-day anti-polio campaign in district East of Karachi. Police officials said they had deployed extra law enforcers to provide protection to the vaccinators given the neighbourhood is already quite sensitive.

“The government will take a decision on whether or not the campaign will continue,” said a spokesperson for the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On the other hand, the relevant authorities have decided to continue the campaign. “We will continue the campaign not only in Sohrab Goth but in the entire district East,” said district East deputy commissioner Samiuddin Siddiqui.

This is not the first attack on a polio team in Karachi, especially in Sohrab Goth. In July 2012, a foreign doctor was injured when unidentified armed men opened fire on a United Nations vehicle passing through Koochi Camp near Sohrab Goth. Most of the attacks on polio workers in Karachi have been observed to have occurred in the outskirts of the city, areas notorious as militant strongholds.

Also in July 2012, 45-year-old Dr Ishaq, a doctor associated with the polio prevention campaign of the WHO, was gunned down in alAsif Square in Sohrab Goth. Three consecutive attacks in separate areas of Karachi on December 18, 2012, claimed the lives of four female polio workers and wounded two male workers. Madiha and Fahmida were slain in Gulshan-e-Buner in Landhi. Within 15 minutes, Naseema Akhtar was shot dead and her colleague, Israr, was critically injured in an attack in Orangi Town. Thirty minutes later, Kaneez Jan, was shot dead while her co-worker, Rashid, was injured in an attack in Ittehad Town.

In August this year, a team of vaccinators escaped unhurt in an attack in Gulshan-e-Maymar when the police exchanged fire with a shooter believed to be affiliated with the Afghan Taliban. He was later arrested.

Source: The Express Tribune

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