KARACHI: Unidentified gunmen attacked policemen guarding medical workers administering polio vaccinations in Karachi on Wednesday, killing seven of them, in the latest violence against efforts to eradicate the crippling childhood disease.
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On his visit to the crime scene, Director General Rangers Sindh Major Bilal Akbar said the paramilitary force in collaboration with police will carry out joint investigation into the policemen’s killing.
“Sacrifices of policemen will not go in vain…They laid down their lives while on duty,” he said.
Major Bilal said preventive actions will be taken in order to ensure that such incidents do not take place in future.
Police vehicles patrolling Organgi Town and Disco Mor areas for the security of polio workers came under attack by unidentified gunmen.
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The first attack took place near Disco Mor when unidentified gunmen opened fire on police vehicle, leaving three injured. In another attack, minutes later close to the busy Bangla Bazaar area, unidentified gunmen attacked a different police vehicle, leaving four policemen injured.
The injured were rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where all seven cops were pronounced dead on arrival. The policemen received multiple gunshot wounds, hospital sources said.
Polio, which can cause lifelong paralysis, is now endemic in only two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Teams in Pakistan working to immunize children against the virus are often targeted by Taliban and other militant groups, who say the campaign is a cover for Western spies, or accuse workers of distributing drugs designed to sterilise children.
At least 89 people — including vaccination workers and policemen — have been killed in such attacks since July 2012, according to a Reuters tally based on United Nations figures and media reports.
Last year, Pakistan reported 54 of 74 worldwide cases of polio, down drastically from the 306 cases reported in the country the year before, mainly due to expanded immunization efforts.
Government officials in Karachi said the immunisation drive would be suspended while the violence was investigated.