KARACHI: Unidentified gunmen opened fire on policemen guarding polio workers administering vaccinations in Orangi Town on Wednesday, killing seven of them.
The attacks took place within 200 yards of each other near the Bangla Bazar market and Disco Mor area, a senior police official said.
“One took place on the three policemen who were escorting a polio team, the policemen were on foot when they were attacked,” said senior police official Ali Asif.
“In the second incident, four policemen in a police van were targeted.”
The injured policemen were rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where all seven of them were pronounced dead on arrival.
Despite wearing bullet-proof jackets, the policemen received multiple gunshot wounds to their heads and chests, hospital sources said.
The slain policemen were identified as Rustam Khan, Mohammad Ismail, Gul Khan, Wazir, Ghulam Rasool, Ghazi Khan and Daimud Din. Officials said the policemen were called from Ghotki and Shahdadpur to perform security duty for the polio workers.
Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal confirmed that two separate firing incidents took place.
“The policemen were on guard duty accompanying polio workers. These policemen have laid down their lives to save the polio workers,” he said.
Siyal said the polio vaccination campaign was temporarily halted in Orangi Town following the incident.
“The target of the attack was policemen and not polio workers,” a spokesperson for the Polio Emergency Cell said.
Officials confirmed eight attackers on four motorcycles carried out the attack.
DIG West Feroz Shah said that 9 mm pistols were used in the attack. “Nine bullet casings were recovered from the area,” he said.
The attack marks the latest violence against efforts to eradicate the crippling childhood disease in Pakistan.
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 extremist militants.
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.