Gunmen in Pakistan shoot dead 7 aid workers near capital

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Tue Jan 1, 2013 10:28pm IST

1 of 3. People stand near a body of an aid worker, who was killed by unidentified gunmen, at a hospital in Swabi January 1, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Khuram Parvez

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Gunmen ambushed and shot dead six Pakistani women aid workers and a male doctor on Tuesday, police said, and the charity they worked for said it suspected the attacks were linked to recent murders of polio vaccination workers.

Their vehicle was raked with gunfire as they returned home from work at a children's community centre run by Pakistani charity Ujala, or Light, said district police officer Abdur Rashid Khan. Their driver was seriously wounded in the attack.

The shooting in Swabi district, about 75 km (45 miles) northwest of the capital of Islamabad, was the first attack on aid workers in the area.

The victims worked at the centre for aid agency Support With Working Solutions, whose head Javed Akhtar said they had told their other 160 staff to suspend work following the killings.

The organisation is involved in health education in underdeveloped parts of the country, Akhtar said. It had run a school and dispensary in Swabi and helped vaccinate children against polio, a disease that can cripple or kill within hours of infection.

He suspected the shootings might be linked to a string of attacks on polio vaccinators last month.

"This seemed to be part of the campaign against the polio drive by certain anti-polio elements," he said.

Two weeks ago, gunmen killed nine health workers taking part in a national polio vaccination drive in a series of attacks. Most of the victims were young women earning about $2 a day.

The Taliban said they did not carry out those attacks although its leaders have repeatedly denounced the vaccination programme as a plot to sterilise people or spy on Muslims.

Aid workers have frequently been kidnapped or killed in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 180 million that is struggling to contain a Taliban insurgency and plagued by endemic corruption and violent crime.

(Additional reporting by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Louise Ireland and Giles Elgood)

FILED UNDER:

Economic Pulse

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Nifty Above 8,600

Nifty Above 8,600

Nifty hits record high above 8,600; state-run lenders gain  Full Article 

Bhopal Tragedy

Bhopal Tragedy

Bhopal's toxic legacy lives on, 30 years after industrial disaster  Full Article 

Essar Group

Essar Group

Exclusive - Essar's planned oil-for-steel deal tests Iran sanctions  Full Article 

Islamic Fund

Islamic Fund

India gets new Islamic equity fund but debt market still off-limits  Full Article 

Fiscal Deficit

Fiscal Deficit

April-October fiscal deficit nears 90 pct of full-year target  Full Article 

Oil Prices

Oil Prices

Oil hits new four-year low post OPEC as glut looms  Full Article 

Gold Imports

Gold Imports

Nov gold imports seen climbing on expectation of curbs   Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage