Killers of cop on polio duty arrested: KP police chief

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police chief Dr Sanaullah Abbasi on Wednesday said the police have arrested the killers of the policeman gunned down in Karak district of the province a day earlier.

Constable Junaidullah Khan was on security duty with a polio vaccination team in the remote town of Latumbar when attackers riding a motorbike opened fire on them. As a result, Khan was killed on the spot.

A local police official, speaking on condition of anonymity said the attack took place at 10:10 am.

“Our constable Junaidullah was on polio security duty […] in the area of Latumbar. The attackers came on motorcycles and opened fire on him, and the polio vaccination team was in the van,” said the official.

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No one else was hurt in the attack, and the vaccination drive continues in the area.

Abbasi said that immediately after the incident, he contacted a deputy inspector general (DIG) of police to trace the attackers.

KP will soon become a polio-free province, Abbasi vowed and said all security arrangements have been made to conduct the campaign in a peaceful manner.

The first nationwide polio vaccination drive of the year began on Monday to immunise some 40 million children under the age of five against the crippling disease with a focus on high-risk cities including Karachi and Quetta.

The five-day campaign involves 285,000 health workers who while observing coronavirus-related standard operating procedures (SOPs) are going door-to-door to vaccinate children.

According to a statement, during the drive, the trained polio frontline workers will reach every child with essential polio vaccine while adhering to strict health guidelines such as wearing a mask, using hand sanitiser, and maintaining the minimum distance advised during the campaign.

Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan. The country is facing a challenging situation in polio eradication with the upsurge in the number of polio cases. In 2020, 83 polio cases were reported across the country, including 24 from Balochistan, 22 each from KP and Sindh, and 14 from Punjab.

The government’s efforts to rid the country of polio have lately suffered setbacks due to attacks on vaccinators and police personnel guarding them. The deadly violence is also cited as a factor for the upsurge in new cases that had dropped to only 12 cases in 2018.

Strict security measures had been taken for the campaign and personnel of Balochistan Levies force, police and Frontier Corps (FC) would move with all teams of vaccinations.

In traditionally conservative parts of the country, many see the vaccine as a Western-led conspiracy to sterilise children. To deal with the situation, religious scholars, tribal elders and other people who have influence in their areas would motivate parents to get their children vaccinated.

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