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UN polio doctor, driver shot in Karachi
 
 
 

KARACHI – Armed men opened fire on a UN vehicle, wounding a foreign doctor working on a polio immunisation campaign and his local driver in Sohrab Goth area of Karachi on Tuesday.According to police sources, unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets on UN vehicle (X-68-3686) when it was moving towards Hassan Noman Colony located behind Al-Asif Square. The injured doctor, identified as Constand-Dedo, son of David Rahoja, received single bullet in his abdomen and was shifted to private hospital.Sohrab Goth SHO Muhammad Sultan said the African doctor was among a team of UN polio workers. He was going to launch the polio campaign at Hassan Noman Colony. The police officer said it was premature to say anything about the incident as investigation was underway. Agencies add: The shooting highlighted resistance to a widely publicised three-day vaccination campaign, which began Monday. The Taliban have banned immunisations in the northwest, condemning the campaign as a cover for espionage since a Pakistani doctor was jailed after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme.“A WHO vehicle was fired upon with gunshots. One international staff and one local driver were injured in the incident,” Maryam Yunus, spokeswoman for the United Nations’ World Health Organisation, told AFP.She said the doctor from Ghana and the Pakistani driver had been transferred to a private hospital in Karachi where their condition was stable. “They are out of danger,” Yunus said.Police blamed the shooting on two Afghan men. Sohrab Goth neighbourhood is home to thousands of Afghan refugees and migrants from northwest Pakistan looking for work in what is country’s largest city, with a population of 18 million.The UN staff were travelling in an unmarked, white double-cabin pick-up. Local TV channels broadcast footage of bullet holes in the vehicle.The Geneva-based WHO said later Tuesday in a statement that there was currently “no evidence to suggest that this was a deliberate or targeted attack against polio eradication efforts or WHO. WHO is grateful to the Pakistan authorities for launching an investigation into this event.” It paid tribute to the “incredible bravery” of more than 200,000, mainly Pakistani volunteers who run every vaccination campaign, and said the shooting would not derail efforts to eradicate polio in the country.But police suggested that the doctor could have been targeted deliberately, because he had been working in the neighbourhood for about three months.“It could be related to the polio campaign, as there is resistance in the population against it. We are, however, still investigating the real motives,” police officer Muhammad Sultan told AFP.A health expert, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, also interpreted the attack as a sign of an alarming trend. He said there had been threats and announcements in mosques branding the vaccine anti-Islam and blamed “a new wave of attacks on polio workers” on the CIA’s use of Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi to help find bin Laden.“It has become a very serious and critical issue. People suspect foreigners’ involvement in the programme and fake campaign by Afridi has given further credence to conspiracy theory,” he said.He said polio workers were beaten in Islamabad on Monday, a team fired on in the southern town of Jacobabad, and a motorcycle stolen in the southwestern town of Ziarat.“It is an alarming situation because neither the government, nor international aid agencies have a clear strategy to deal with this issue,” he said.

 
 
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