At least four persons including two security escorts of a polio vaccination team, who had gone missing last week, have been found murdered in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.
Police said the bodies of an anti-polio volunteer, two constables and a driver who were kidnapped from a remote area of Zhob district last Saturday were found yesterday.
“They were shot dead by their assailants before their bodies were dumped in the Gowal Ismailzai area near Zhob,” Deputy Commissioner Zhob Nazir Ahmed Khetran said.
“It appears that they were killed by Taliban extremists who are against the polio vaccination drive,” he said, adding that some people in the area had spotted the bodies and informed the police and security officials.
The polio vaccination team had left the district headquarters in Quetta to vaccinate children in the Toda Gibzai area but they didn’t reach their destination.
The missing polio workers were identified as Samad - driver, Hameed - vaccinator and constables Naseem and Ayub.
All the shops and markets in Zhob city were closed after the bodies were found as their relatives and people thronged the streets to voice their protests.
Nobody had claimed responsibility for the incident but it was feared from the very outset that the missing persons were picked up by militants, who often attack polio workers as they consider polio vaccinations as a western conspiracy.
The incident reported more than a week after abduction of six Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation Limited workers in the same area. Zhob is located near Afghan border.
On February 16, two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the same area while briefly encountering security forces during a search operation to find the polio team.
Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. In 2014, Pakistan reported as many as 305 polio cases.