QUETTA: Four polio workers – including three women – were shot dead and three others wounded in a targeted attack on their vehicle in Eastern Bypass area near Quetta on Wednesday morning.
“The team was on its way to the assigned union council after collecting polio vaccines in Killi Ahmzai area when armed men on motorbikes intercepted their vehicle on Link Road of Easter Bypass,” said an eyewitness, adding that masked men first shot the woman campaigner in front seat and then opened indiscriminate fire on other workers sitting in the back of the pickup.
The polio teams were carrying out an emergency campaign in the outskirts of Quetta and had informed New Saryab Police Station about it.
A senior police official at the police station said the polio workers started their vaccination campaign without waiting for security personnel – assigned for their safety – to arrive.
The attackers managed to flee from the scene after the deadly attack.
Medics at Civil hospital, Quetta said two bodies and five injured were brought in of whom two succumbed to their injuries soon after. “Three young women and a man were killed while three are injured,” the medics confirmed.
Balochistan government has assigned two policemen to each polio team due to the prevailing security situation and threats to lives of anti-polio campaigners in the province.
Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, while speaking to Express News, said these attacks cannot dampen his government’s resolve to completely eradicate the crippling disease.
Condemning the deadly attack, the chief minister said the government will help the families of the deceased and those injured in these trying times.
Speaking about providing adequate security to polio workers, Baloch said the government is committed to ensure safe vaccination campaigns in Balochistan, however, the province is huge which makes matters difficult to manage.
This is the second attack on health workers in Quetta in 2014. Earlier, unidentified persons attacked a vehicle used by polio team with a hand grenade in Pashtunabad area, predominantly Afghan refugees’ settlement area. However, no one was hurt in the attack.