Militant ambush kills 12 of polio workers
escort in Pakistan
Send a link to a friend
[March 01, 2014]
By Jibran Ahmad
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Militants
killed 12 members of the security escort for a polio vaccination team in
northwest Pakistan on Saturday, detonating a roadside bomb before
opening fire on their convoy, according to officials.
The attack lasted an hour and when rescuers approached the scene
the gunmen also attacked them, according to Khan Faraz, an official
in the Jamrud area of Khyber, a rugged tribal region bordering
Around a dozen wounded were taken to hospital, but others died on
the road waiting for help to arrive, he said.
Another official, Assistant Political Agent Jehangir Azam, said all
the casualties were members of the levies or Khasadar, both locally
recruited government-backed militias. They were providing security
for the health workers.
Polio vaccination teams are frequently attacked, as are government
security forces. A spokeswoman for UNICEF said it was unclear who
was the target on this occasion.
Some religious leaders have denounced the multi-billion dollar
vaccination campaign as a cover for spying or a plot to secretly
sterilize Muslim children.
Pakistan is one of the last three countries in the world where polio
remains endemic and the only one of those three where reported cases
are increasing. The disease can kill or paralyze within hours.
In a separate incident in western Baluchistan province, a roadside
bomb killed three members of a government paramilitary force in
Sorab, about 230 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital of
Shortly afterwards, the paramilitary Frontier Corps announced it had
killed ten men in Sui, 300 kilometers southeast of Quetta. The
Frontier Corps said they were carrying out an operation to search
for militants who had bombed gas pipelines.
Baluchistan, a mineral-rich and dirt-poor province, is home to a
bloody separatist insurgency, other militant groups, drug lords and
government-backed death squads.
[to top of second column]
In recent weeks the Pakistani government tried to initiate peace
talks with the Taliban insurgency, an umbrella group of militant
factions and the largest and deadliest of dozens of militant groups
operating in Pakistan.
But peace talks failed after the Taliban bombed a bus of policemen
and a faction of the Taliban claimed to have executed 23 kidnapped
men from a government-run paramilitary force. Their bodies were
The Pakistani military responded by bombing areas they identified as
militant hideouts. A military spokesman says the attacks destroyed
key hideouts and killed dozens of militants.
The air operations have sparked speculation that a much-anticipated
offensive may finally be launched in North Waziristan, a tribal area
along the border with Afghanistan that is considered the Taliban's
(Additional reporting by Gul Yousafzai in Quetta; and Katharine
Houreld in Islamabad; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.