In continuing attacks on polio teams, six policemen on security detail were among the seven killed on Wednesday in an explosion in Charsadda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
News reports said a 13 -year- old boy was also killed when the police vehicle was targeted. On Tuesday, three polio workers were shot dead in Karachi leading to the suspension of the anti-polio drive in the city.
Pakistan, one of the three polio endemic countries, reported 91 cases in 2013.
The policemen were headed out to provide security for polio teams when the improvised explosive device reported to be placed on a bicycle went off. Nine persons were injured in the attack at Sardheri Bazar in Charsadda.
A polio team vehicle in Bhakkar district in Punjab also came under fire injuring two persons. Official sources said that from 2012 onwards 33 polio workers were killed including 11 security personnel and nine injured in attacks.
The attacks on polio teams began on July 17, 2012 in Gadap Town, Karachi during a polio drive when a doctor attached to the World Health Organisation was injured when gunmen opened fire on his vehicle. His driver too was hurt in the attack. The next day, on the second day of the immunization programme, a polio worker Ishaq was shot dead in the same area. In Quetta in October 2012, one worker was killed during a campaign in the Alizai town.
In four incidents in Karachi in December 2012, three in one day, five persons including four women, two of them in charge of the area programme were killed, and two injured in attacks. In January this year, in Korangi Town in Karachi three persons including two women were shot dead and one injured in firing.
Security police accompanying the teams were killed in Swabi, Mardan and Bajaur and Peshawar last year while a bomb blast killed two policemen in Suleman Khel area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Militants also attacked the Mattani civil hospital last year and killed one person during polio vaccination. There have been seven attacks in Karachi of the 25 reported incidents and 13 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, mostly in Peshawar and Swabi. Balochistan reported two attacks and the Federally Administered Tribal areas accounted for three incidents.
In addition in Swabi, on January 2, seven NGO workers who were associated with the polio campaign in the past were killed.
The latest attack comes after Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan remained strongly committed to polio eradication. On Tuesday President Mamnoon Hussain chaired a meeting on Polio Eradication and called on all stakeholders to take part in the Nationwide Polio Campaign for 2014 that began on Monday.
Ms. Ayesha Raza Farooq, the Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication told the meeting that more than 34 million children were going to be vaccinated across the country during the campaign and over 200,000 workers and supervisors were involved in the immunization drive. She said that Polio Control Rooms have been established at district, provincial and federal levels to closely monitor daily progress of the campaign.