In 2007 parents of some 24,000 children in Pakistan refused to give their children immunizations after a radical Muslim cleric opposed the local polio vaccine plan. He said it was a plot by Westerners to sterilize the region.
Also in 2007, a Pakistani health official in charge of the campaign to inoculate children against polio was killed in a bomb blast, following rumors the vaccination was a US plot to sterilize them.(AFP/File/Ali Arif)
Three more polio workers were shot dead in Pakistan this week. The health workers laid on the street for several minutes before anyone dared try to rescue them.
The Tribune reported, via Religion of Peace:
For Anita and Akbari, Tuesday was the perfect day to combat a life-threatening disease. The health workers had been visiting Qayyumabad’s A Area to administer polio vaccines for over a year now. The people were always welcoming and the two women had developed a cordial relationship with the residents.
That morning, Anita and Akbari, had been assigned to cover street number 6. The other team, with Fahad Khaalil and Salma Bibi, were on street number 7. At approximately 10:10am, Khaalil had just knocked on the door of a two-storey house when two men on a motorcycle came up from behind and shot the two health workers several times. Fahad sustained five bullet-wounds and died on the spot. Salma was shot thrice. A passerby, Syed Asghar Ali Shah, was also injured.
The assailants then turned into the adjacent street and targeted Anita and Akbari. Both were shot dead at point-blank range in front of a four-storey house they had just approached. The criminals escaped firing shots into the air.
“One of the women was still breathing when I reached the spot,” a resident told The Express Tribune. “They were lying on the street for around 10 minutes before anyone dared try to rescue them.” The bodies of the deceased and the injured were shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate and Medical Centre. “Fahad, Akbari and Anita were pronounced dead on arrival,” confirmed the medico-legal officer Dr Manzoor Memon.
The lone survivor of the targeted attack, Salma, fights for her life at the hospital. She is a widow and the only source of income for her three daughters and a son.
Local authorities said the polio vaccinations will continue despite the deaths.