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Pakistan: 14 killed at polio vaccination centre in Quetta

13th Jan 2016
Pakistan: 14 killed at polio vaccination centre in Quetta

By Aamir Latif

 

Karachi, (AA): At least 14 people, including 12 policemen, were killed in a bomb blast Wednesday in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, officials said.

The bomb struck a police van outside a polio vaccination center in the provincial capital Quetta.

The campaign is to target 2.4 million children under the age of five. Over 55,000 children of Afghan refugees are to be immunised under the campaign.

Polio teams were being dispatched from the polio centre targeted today in the blast, security sources said.

Pakistan remains one of only two countries on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) list of polio-endemic countries.

Polio workers have long been targeted in the country due to rumours that the polio immunisation drive is a front for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilise Muslims. The rumours have made inhabitants of lesser-developed parts of the country more wary of allowing immunisation.

Provincial Home Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti said the victims included 12 police officers and a para military trooper.

“Initial investigations suggest that it could be a suicide blast, but nothing is confirmed so far,” Bugti said.

President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast in Quetta.

In his statement, the premier said government is committed to stamp out extremism from the country and operation will continue till elimination of all terrorism, reported Radio Pakistan.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. However, Taliban militants and secular Baluch separatists have been operating in the region.

Baluchistan, which shares a border with Afghanistan and Iran, has seen a decades-long separatist movement that has left thousands dead.

 

Author Ossama Elshamy
Additional news from Dawn, Pakistan
[Photo: Pakistani security forces and emergency workers inspect the explosion site after a bomb blast, leaving at least 14 police personal dead and 25 over injured in satellite town Quetta, Pakistan on January 13, 2016. Photographer: Mazhar Chand/AA]

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