Friday, January 27, 2023

Policeman escorting polio team shot dead in Balochistan

A policeman escorting a polio vaccination team in Pishin, Balochistan was shot dead by unidentified assailants on Tuesday, an official said.

This happens to be the latest attack against a polio team or its escort working to protect children from the disease.

Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed Muhammed Hashim, the police officer, while he was waiting outside a house where a worker had entered to give polio drops as part of the vaccination campaign that started on Monday.

The polio workers remained unharmed during the attack that took place in the Trat area of district Pishin, confirmed Deputy Commissioner Pishin Muhammad Yasir.

However, both assailants had fled the place of the attack, told a senior police officer Ghulam Asghar.

According to Deputy Commissioner Pishin, the police have launched a search operation in the area to capture the murderers.

The deceased policeman was identified as Constable Muhammad Hashim and his body was moved to Quetta for medico-legal formalities.

The attack comes on the second day of the countrywide, five-day anti-polio campaign which is being carried out in 426 union councils of 19 districts of Balochistan. The campaign is the fifth this year, with the purpose to make Pakistan a polio-free state.

Meanwhile, no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell on militant organizations who often target polio teams and police assigned to protect them, falsely accusing the vaccination campaigns as a Western scheme to sterilize children.

Attacks on polio workers are not an uncommon practice in the country. In August this year, two policemen deployed to guard a polio vaccination team in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Tank district were shot dead by unknown assailants.

While Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mozambique are the only three countries remaining across the globe where poliovirus cases are being reported, Pakistanregistered 20 new polio cases this year, since April, and the outbreak has been seen as a blow to the country’s efforts to get rid of the disease.

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