2 anti-polio workers killed in FATA

A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a polio campaign in Karachi on March 14, 2018. Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio, a crippling childhood disease, remains endemic. (AFP/Asif Hassan)
Updated 18 March 2018
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2 anti-polio workers killed in FATA

PESHAWAR: An official handout circulated by Mohmand Agency’s political administration confirmed on Sunday that a group of unidentified assailants ambushed a seven-member anti-polio monitoring team in the area on Saturday, killing two of its workers.
The handout announced that five other members of the same team went missing immediately after the incident, adding that the authorities launched an extensive search operation in response and finally managed to recover them.
However, a contingent of security personnel also came under fire while combing the area for miscreants and the lost team members in which a Frontier Constabulary soldier lost his life and two others were injured
The team had gone into Mohmand Agency for post-vaccination campaign monitoring when a group of unidentified assailants ambushed its members, Aqeel Ahmed, an official at the FATA Emergency Operations Center, told Arab News.
Such attacks greatly demoralize anti-polio workers, and vaccination campaigns have often been suspended because of them, he said.
Militants in the restive tribal region have frequently targeted anti-polio workers in the recent past, leaving children vulnerable to the disease.
It is a risky job administering polio vaccinations to children, said Arsalan Ahmed, an anti-polio worker in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“I came to know about the Mohmand Agency attack in the morning, but I don’t want to reveal it to the vaccinators in our area because it will greatly demoralize them,” he added.
Vaccinators feel unsafe while performing their duty since they do not get a police escort, said polio monitor Akhtar Ali. 
But during anti-polio campaigns, police contingents are deployed at entry and exit points in various localities, he added.


New Philippine military chief vows to drive Daesh out

Updated 3 min 3 sec ago
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New Philippine military chief vows to drive Daesh out

  • New military chief seeks cooperation of mainstream Muslim groups in fighting violent extremists
  • For the first time, leaders of the two major Muslim rebel groups attended the Philippine military's change of command ceremony

MANILA: The new armed forces chief in the Philippines took up his post with a pledge to drive Daesh from the Philippines while also extending an olive branch to Filipino militants and insurgents.
Army Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez became the country’s 50th military chief on Wednesday, replacing the retiring Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero. 
President Rodrigo Duterte led the change of command ceremony at Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.
In a speech at the ceremony, Galvez called on all enemies of the state to choose peace. “It is time for rebuilding and reconciliation among Filipinos,” he said.
“It is the best time to walk the path of peace. I now extend to our misguided brothers and sisters a chance to end all conflicts,” he added.
He noted that that for decades, Filipinos have fought fellow Filipinos. Communist rebels, Galvez said, have brought misery and enmity among Filipinos, while Abu Sayyaf and other local groups have terrorized communities. He added though that many members of these insurgent and militant groups had already abandoned their illegal activities and begun rebuilding their lives.
“Hundreds of our comrades have already stocked arms and abandoned your hopeless cause. They have seen by themselves that our government is a just and fair government. Your armed forces... invite you to abandon your pointless struggle and return home to your families and your community,” said Galvez.
Galvez pointed out that violent extremism remains a threat as shown by the destructive fighting in Marawi City, which was attacked by members of the Daesh-inspired Maute Group in May last year. 
The Marawi crisis lasted almost five months.
“Daesh and the battle of Marawi have just very recently shown us how truly destructive violent extremism can be. We have won many battles but we have yet to win the war,” he said.
“Violent extremists and their corrupted ideology remain a threat. Too much (blood) has been spilled. Too many lives have been lost to terror and hate,” he added.
He called on all peace-loving Filipinos, including “our Muslim brothers and sisters,” to join the AFP in the fight against all forms of violent extremism. 
“We will pursue with even more vigor our campaign to end insurgency and terrorism. And with your indispensable help, we will ultimately win,” he said,
“Together, we shall render the cause of insurgency irrelevant for it can only thrive where discord prevails. Together we shall defeat the Abu Sayyaf and all other terrorist group for terrorism only works when people are divided and afraid. Together we shall drive Daesh and other violent extremists from our shores for extremism dies in the light of a people united and strong,” he added.
For the first time, leaders of the two major Muslim revolutionary groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), attended the change of command ceremony.
Galvez expressed his full support to the peace process with the armed groups.
“Even though we soldiers are warriors, we shall always prepare the path of peace. Hence we shall support all peace initiatives of the government,” he said.
“We shall more vigorously work hand in hand with government agencies, non-government organizations and other stakeholders to address the underlying cause of conflict. We shall keep our door open with all peaceful possibilities.
“We look forward to the final peaceful political resolution of conflict in Mindanao,” Galvez continued, as he vowed to further strengthen existing peace mechanisms and revitalize the peace and development offices of AFP unified command levels.