News / Asia

Gunmen Kill Five Polio Workers in Pakistan

Rukhsana Bibi cries while sitting next to the body of her daughter Madiha, a worker of an anti-polio drive campaign, in an ambulance outside Jinnah Hospital in Karachi December 18, 2012.
Rukhsana Bibi cries while sitting next to the body of her daughter Madiha, a worker of an anti-polio drive campaign, in an ambulance outside Jinnah Hospital in Karachi December 18, 2012.
Sharon Behn
Gunmen in Pakistan shot dead five polio workers in separate attacks Tuesday, forcing authorities to suspend the vaccination campaign in the country's largest city, Karachi.  
The five female health workers were killed in the southern port city of Karachi and the northwestern city of Peshawar.  Another anti-polio worker was killed in Karachi on Monday. 
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf condemned the attacks.  He said in a statement that the country had to neutralize the message of those resisting the government's efforts to immunize the population against polio.
Polio in Pakistan

- Pakistan is one of three countries that remains polio-endemic.
- Failure to eradicate polio from these remaining strongholds could result in 200,000 new global cases every year within 10 years.
- Pakistan's nationwide eradication program has existed since 1994, but instability and war hampers efforts.
- Polio is highly infectious and can cause total paralysis and even death.
- The virus mainly affects children under five years of age.

(source: World Health Organization)
Taliban militants have threatened anyone trying to immunize children against the crippling disease, claiming they are working on behalf of Western interests and that the vaccination itself is harmful. 
Altaf Bosan, the Pakistani government's coordinator for the eradication of polio, said the killing was senseless. 
He says the polio workers are saving children's lives, trying to save them from being crippled.  I don't know the purpose of this attack and we condemn it, he says, adding that the government is committed to the immunization program and will find those responsible.

A Look at Karachi:

  • Karachi is Pakistan's most populous city.
  • Violence blamed on political, ethnic and sectarian tensions has killed nearly 2,000 people there this year.
  • Analysts predict violence could worsen during next year's elections as political parties battle for control of the city.
  • Karachi is located in one of Pakistan's high-risk areas for polio.
Provincial health minister Sagheer Ahmed says authorities suspended the three-day United Nations-backed vaccination campaign in Karachi, which started on Monday.
He says that those with specific mindsets tried to sabotage the work, and that when female health workers and vaccinators are not safe, we clearly cannot continue these campaigns.
According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, polio has been eradicated in most countries around the world, but remains endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.  The polio virus had been found in sewage samples in Karachi. 
At the end of a national vaccination campaign in Pakistan in October, local and international health officials said that of 32 million children targeted for immunizations, nearly one million had been left unvaccinated.
Taliban militants have condemned the polio campaign ever since a Pakistani doctor was jailed for helping the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency run a fake vaccination program aimed at locating fugitive al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.  

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Joseph from: Cochin, Kerala
December 18, 2012 12:33 PM
How cruel these sons of evil are to kill those volunteers engaged in polio vaccination ? Terrorist outfits organised and trained by ISI is out to eliminate their own people. Pakistan will have to eliminate those terrorists to liberate the society.
In Response

by: Jack from: USA
December 18, 2012 3:06 PM
Medical professionals are supposed to be non-combatants. When they are used as spies, we shouldn't be surprised at the results.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs