Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a polio vaccination team near the Eastern Bypass area in Pakistan’s Quetta city , killing four health workers, including three women, and injuring three others.
The assailants later escaped from the site of the incident, Dawn online reported.
The bodies of the victims were shifted to the Civil Hospital Quetta for postmortem.
“Two men on a motorcycle stopped our car and started shooting. No security arrangements were made,” a survivor of the attack said.
“There was a policeman standing in the distance, but he didn’t come to our aid. We called everyone, but no one came to our rescue. One man on a motorcycle came (forward) and started our car and took us to the hospital,” she added.
The lady health workers’ (LHW) association in the province subsequently announced a boycott of the polio campaign in the Balochistan province, where the incident occurred.
Speaking to the media, one health worker said that until security was provided, they would continue to boycott the campaign. They also said that the government has failed to provide security to health workers.
Police and Frontier Corps personnel arrived at the scene to investigate the incident. No group, however, has claimed responsibility for the attack as yet.
After the attack, police conducted several raids in the Eastern Bypass area and detained several suspects in relation to the attack.
A senior police officer said on the condition of anonymity that the suspects were being interrogated by the police.
He also stated that 700 policemen have been deployed in Quetta to guard polio teams.
A polio vaccination campaign was launched amidst tight security in 11 districts of Balochistan earlier in November.
During the campaign, over 238,000 children below the age of five would be administered the polio vaccine.
Militant groups often attack polio teams as they see vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage. There are also long running rumours about polio drops causing infertility.
Refusal on the part of parents remains the underlying factor behind increasing cases of polio in Balochistan.
Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. Efforts to eradicate it have been seriously hampered by the targeting of vaccination teams in recent years.