7 aid workers, teachers slain in Pakistan
By The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 8:08 p.m.
ISLAMABAD — Gunmen on motorcycles sprayed a van carrying employees from a community center with bullets on Tuesday, killing five female teachers and two aid workers but sparing a child they took out of the vehicle before opening fire.
The director of the group that the seven worked for said he believes the attack might have been the latest in a series targeting anti-polio efforts in Pakistan. Some militants oppose the vaccination campaigns, accusing health workers of acting as spies for the United States and alleging the vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile.
Last month, nine people working on an anti-polio vaccination campaign were shot and killed. Four of those shootings were in the northwest, where the attack took place.
The attack was a reminder of the risks for female educators and aid workers from Islamic militants who oppose their work. The attack occurred in the same conservative province where militants shot and seriously wounded 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai, an outspoken young activist for girls' education, last year.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest shootings.
The teachers and health workers — one man and one woman — were killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on their way home from a community center in the town of Swabi, where they were employed at a medical clinic and primary school. Their driver was injured.
Javed Akhtar, the director of Support With Working Solution, said the clinic vaccinated children against polio, and many of the NGO's staff had taken part in immunization campaigns.
Militants in the province have blown up schools and killed female educators.
They also have kidnapped and killed aid workers, viewing them as promoting a foreign, liberal agenda.
The injured driver in Swabi told investigators that the gunmen stopped the vehicle and removed a boy — the son of one of the women — before indiscriminately opening fire, according to police Officer Fazal Malik. The woman's husband rushed to the scene upon receiving a phone call alerting him to the shooting.
“I left everything and rushed towards the spot. As I reached there, I saw their dead bodies were inside the vehicle, and he (his son) was sitting with someone,” said Zain ul Hadi.
Swabi police Chief Abdur Rasheed said most of the women killed were between 20 and 22 years old. He said four gunmen on two motorcycles fled the scene and have not been apprehended.
The NGO conducts education and health programs and runs the community center in Swabi, Akhtar said. The group has been active in the city since 1992, and started the Ujala Community Welfare Center in 2010, he added. Ujala means “light” in Urdu.
The center is financed by the Pakistani government's Poverty Alleviation Program and a German organization, Akhtar said.
He said the NGO also runs health and education projects in the South Waziristan tribal area, as well as health projects in the cities of Tank and Dera Ismail Khan and the regions of Lower Dir and Upper Kurram. All of those cities and regions are in northwest Pakistan, the area that has been most affected by the ongoing fight with militants opposed to the government.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley
- Primanti’s manager admits stealing $30,000 from restaurants
- Ex-Sandusky lawyer investigated in divorce case
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Fear of building collapse closes Tarentum road
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Penn State’s Franklin cherishes memories of time spent in Pittsburgh
- Moon receives $3.3 million to improve Thorn Run interchange
- Jury in Jordan Miles civil rights trial will consist of four white men, four white women