Four injured as mob attacks polio team in Pak's Balochistan province

The incident took place when the polio vaccine team was going around the Chaman area to administer vaccines to children.
Representative Image: Two policemen guarding a polio vaccination team were shot by militants in Pakistan's restive northwestern tribal region.
Representative Image: Two policemen guarding a polio vaccination team were shot by militants in Pakistan's restive northwestern tribal region. (File Photo | AP)

KARACHI: Four people, including a woman and a policeman, were injured when a mob armed with sticks and batons attacked a polio vaccine team in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province on Monday, police said, in the second such incident in a day.

The incident took place when the polio vaccine team was going around the Chaman area to administer vaccines to children.

According to a police official, a mob armed with sticks and batons attacked the team in which four people -- a female polio worker, two levies officials and a policeman -- were injured.

The mob also tried to snatch the weapons from the paramilitary levies personnel, he said.

Deputy Commissioner Raja Athar Abbas said the attackers were members of a sit-in protest being held in Chaman against the polio vaccination campaign, which began on Monday in Balochistan.

However, Sadiq Khan Achakzai, a key leader of the Chaman sit-in, denied the allegations, stating that the protesters were not responsible for the attack on the polio team.

"Our only demand is that people should not be forced to administer polio drops to their children," he said.

Abbas said additional teams of levies and police have been sent to Chaman to provide more security to the polio vaccine teams in the province.

He said that legal measures would be pursued against those obstructing the polio campaign.

The government has started a nationwide anti-polio campaign in 66 districts, including 14 in Balochistan.

The campaign aims to vaccinate over 1.8 million children against polio.

Abbas said despite the attack, the campaign will proceed with enhanced security measures.

This is not the first time that polio vaccine teams have come under attack in parts of Pakistan.

Anti-polio campaigns in Pakistan are regularly marred by violence.

In the past many workers have lost their lives and others have been injured by attackers who believe that the anti-polio vaccine campaign is un-Islamic.

Earlier in the day, a police constable guarding a polio team was critically injured when unknown gunmen attacked vaccinators in restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic, according to the World Health Organisation.

In an unrelated attack by militants, two coal miners were gunned down on Monday in the Dukki area in Balochistan.

Dukki, known for its abundant coal reserves, has long been a hub of economic activity, with thousands of coal miners toiling in its mines and some coming under attack by outlawed separatist and militant outfits.

Coal mine workers belonging to other provinces have particularly come under attack.

A government official said the attackers opened fire on some workers but fled after security forces posted there fired back on them.

"But two workers were killed in the firing," he said.

Earlier this year, five coal miners who belonged to other provinces were kidnapped from Dukki by militants but returned to their homes after their families paid some ransom.

Zardan Baloch of the Coal Miners Workers Association said those working in mines in the province not only had to work in hazardous conditions and were killed frequently in mine explosions or collapses but also had to deal with militant groups targeting them.

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