Gunmen kill seven Pakistani policemen in Karachi

April 20, 2016 9:00 pm

In this photograph taken on February 16, 2016, a Pakistani policeman stands guard during a door-to-door polio immunization campaign in Karachi. (Photo by AFP)

Gunmen killed at least seven Pakistani policemen guarding a polio vaccination team in the port city of Karachi on Wednesday.
Feroz Shah, a senior police official, said eight gunmen on motorcycles carried out the killings in two separate attacks in the western neighborhood of Orangi Town.
Ali Asif, another senior police official, said the attacks were carried out within 600 meters (650 yards) of each other near a market in the area.
“One took place at the three policemen, who were escorting a polio team, the policemen were on foot when they were attacked,” Asif said, adding, “In the second incident, four policemen in a police van were targeted.”
Provincial Home Minister Suhail Anwar said the seven police officers were killed minutes apart in Karachi, the capital of Sindh Province.
Police had been deployed in the violence-hit city in connection with the polio campaign, which was launched to vaccinate children.
Karachi, a sprawling port metropolis of more than 20 million people, has been plagued by ethnic, sectarian and political violence for years.
No group has claimed responsibility for the Wednesday attacks yet, though officials usually put the blame for such attacks on pro-Taliban militants, who have carried out similar attacks in during vaccination campaigns over the past years.

Pakistani security officials inspect a military police jeep following an attack by gunmen in Karachi, December 1, 2015. (AFP photo)

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries where polio is considered endemic, but Pakistan reportedly accounts for more than 80 percent of all polio cases in the world.
Nearly 90 percent of cases in Pakistan have been recorded in the loosely-governed, conflict-prone tribal areas that border Afghanistan, and the adjacent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
Attempts to eradicate the polio have been badly hit by militant attacks on immunization teams.
Taliban militants operating in Pakistan have ordered a ban on polio vaccination campaigns, arguing that they could be a cover-up for espionage activities by the United States.
Taliban militants in Pakistan also claim that doctors are spies and the vaccination is part of a Western plot to sterilize Pakistani children.
Several polio vaccination workers have been killed or kidnapped by militants in various regions of Pakistan over the past years.
In the country’s troubled northwestern tribal regions, Islamabad has been engaged in a major offensive against militant hideouts since June 2014, when a deadly raid on the Karachi International Airport ended the government’s faltering peace talks with the pro-Taliban militants.
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