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Anti-polio team comes under attack in Karachi, three workers killed

22 January, 2014

KARACHI: At least three anti-polio workers including two female workers were killed, two others wounded as campaign team came under attack at Qayyumabad area of Karachi on Tuesday, officials said.

Police said anti-polio team was busy in vaccination procedure in Qayyumabad area when unidentified gunmen opened fire on them.

Two female workers and a male campaigner killed on spot while a lady health worker was among two hurt in Tuesday attack.

Wounded staff shifted to Jinnah hospital for treatment.

The attack comes a day after three-day anti-polio vaccination campaign was kicked off in Karachi, excluding some sensitive areas.

Officials said 5, 800 teams have been formed to complete the task of vaccinating 2.0 million children.

Campaign will remain suspended in SITE, Gadap Town and Baldia Town due to security reasons.

Attacks on anti-polio teams occurred in lawless tribal areas of Pakistan and terrorism hit province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but Karachi, the largest metropolis and financial capital of the country also witnessed such attacks frequently.

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

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

The resistance to polio vaccination by Taliban militants stiffened after the May 2011 raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in northern Pakistan as revelations surfaced that the Central Intelligence Agency had used Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor, to run a fake vaccination campaign to gain access into Bin Laden's hide out.

Since then, Taliban insurgents have increased their attacks on the vaccination work and issued religious edicts claiming that the United States uses it as a guise to run a spying network. Hard-line religious extremists also claim that the vaccinations aim to sterilize Muslims.

According to the World Health Organisation, more than 3.5 million Pakistani children missed out on polio vaccination when over a dozen immunisation workers were shot dead in various parts of the country.

WHO in recent days declared Peshawar as epicenter of polio virus in the world.

Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain on Tuesday condemned latest attack on polio team in Karachi in which three workers were killed.

President Hussain said that such cowardly acts could not dampen the spirit of the nation.

He vowed that anti-polio drive will continue across the country despite such attacks.

Meanwhile, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain in a separate statement also strongly denounced the attack on polio team.

Three polio workers, two females among them, were killed when the team was administering vaccination to children in Qayyumabad area of Karachi, near Sir Syed hospital.

The attack came a day after three-day anti-polio vaccination campaign was kicked off in Karachi, excluding some sensitive areas

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