Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a polio team in Datta Khel
Unidentified assailants on Tuesday shot dead two police officers assigned to polio vaccination teams and a polio worker in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan.
According to officials, the gunmen opened fire on the policemen who were guarding a team of polio workers in the district during the vaccination drive.
As a result of the attack, two policemen were killed and a child also sustained injuries during the attack after he was shot in the leg. A heavy contingent of law enforcement reached the spot after the incident and the bodies of the deceased were shifted to a hospital.
However, the assailants managed to escape from the area.
The martyred personnel were identified as Din Shahid and Razaullah, according to official sources.
The victims were taking part in a United Nations-funded campaign that kicked off on Monday in high-risk areas of the country, targeting 12.6 million children under the age of five.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he was “deeply anguished” by the news and said he had ordered Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and submit a report at the next cabinet meeting.
Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan strongly condemned the killing of the polio worker and the security team of the polio drive and directed for immediate arrest of the culprits involved in the attack on the polio team.
He also expressed determination to deal with the culprits with iron hands.
Meanwhile, the anti-polio drive has been suspended as all the polio teams have been called off from North Waziristan district and the search operation has begun in the area.
Pakistan’s battle against polioAs Pakistan battles the resurgence of the poliovirus, another case of the disease was confirmed on June 24 in an eight-month-old child hailing from the Mir Ali area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s North Waziristan district.
The disease reared its ugly earlier this year after a lull of 15 months. All children confirmed with wild polio belonged to North Waziristan, where more cases are expected due to high refusal rates and instances of finger-marking without vaccination during campaigns.
Pakistan remains one of only two countries in the world with circulating wild poliovirus, together with Afghanistan. Polio is a highly infectious virus and until this last remaining epidemiological bloc wipes out polio, children all over the world remain at risk of life-long paralysis or fatality by the poliovirus.
The emergency committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) on the international spread of poliovirus also recently expressed concern over the outbreak of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) in the North Waziristan district.
According to National Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator Dr Shahzad Baig, community resistance, driven by misconceptions and cultural resistance to the vaccine are hurdles in polio eradication in Pakistan.
The NEOC coordinator urged parents to routinely immunize children on time. “Routine immunization is essential against preventable diseases like polio”, Dr Shahzad added.