WHO suspends Pak polio campaign

Updated 19 December 2012
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WHO suspends Pak polio campaign

PESHAWAR: Gunmen in Pakistan mounted fresh attacks yesterday on health workers carrying out polio vaccinations, taking the death toll to nine and prompting WHO to suspend work on a campaign opposed by the Taleban.
Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, but efforts to stamp out the crippling disease have been hampered by resistance from the Taleban, who have banned vaccination teams from some areas.
Nine people working to immunize children against the highly infectious disease have been shot dead in Pakistan since the start of a three-day UN-backed nationwide vaccination campaign on Monday.
In the latest attack, a female health worker and her driver were shot dead in Charsadda, near Peshawar, the main town in the northwest, police official Wajid Khan told AFP. A second police officer confirmed the incident.
Another worker was shot and critically wounded while giving out polio drops earlier yesterday on the outskirts of Peshawar also died, doctor Ahmad Saqlain of the city's Lady Reading Hospital told AFP.
Two other polio teams were targeted in similar attacks in the towns of Nowshera and Charsadda, police and health officials said, but the polio workers escaped unharmed. One passerby was slightly injured in Nowshera.
Violence has blighted every day of the polio campaign so far: one health worker was shot dead in Karachi on Monday and four more were killed in the city with another gunned down in Peshawar on Tuesday.
The bloodshed prompted the UN children's agency UNICEF and the World Health Organization to suspend work on polio campaigns across Pakistan.
UNICEF spokesman Michael Coleman told AFP the two organizations halted work in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces after Tuesday's attacks but had now extended the suspension nationwide.
Suspicion of vaccination programs intensified after the jailing of a doctor who helped the CIA find Osama Bin Laden in 2011 using a hepatitis campaign.
Polio cases in Pakistan fell to 28 in 2005 but have risen sharply in recent years, hitting 198 in 2011 — the highest figure for more than a decade and the most of any country in the world last year, according to the World Health Organization. There have been 56 infections so far in 2012.
There has been no claim of responsibility for this week's attacks, but in June the Taleban banned immunizations in the tribal region of Waziristan, condemning the polio campaign as a cover for espionage.
In Waziristan, a hub for Taleban militants, the ban — also enforced as a protest against US drone strikes — has put the health of 240,000 children at risk, officials say.
Police said Tuesday's killings in Karachi took place in suburbs dominated by Pashtuns, the dominant ethnic group in northwest Pakistan who have a sizeable migrant population in the city.


Toronto: Bodies and debris scattered over mile-long strip

Updated 24 April 2018
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Toronto: Bodies and debris scattered over mile-long strip

  • At least 10 people have died in the attack officials called “deliberate” but not linked to national security concerns
  • Toronto police have the suspect after a confrontation

TORONTO: The crime scene seems to go on forever, a taped off stretch of street scattered with bodies under orange sheets, urban debris and a pair of abandoned shoes.

Toronto police have arrived, and a suspect is under lock and key, but no one yet knows why the driver of a white rental van spread death and destruction under the warm spring sunshine.

“I heard screaming, yelling. I turned back and saw this truck going that way. He was going in and out, back and forth, zigzagging. He just kept on going,” said 42-year-old Rocco Cignielli.

There was nothing the customer service worker could do. Emergency services were on the scene quickly, but in some cases their efforts were in vain.

At least 10 people have died in the attack officials called “deliberate” but not linked to national security concerns.

“I saw there were people lying on the ground. I saw they were doing heart compression, and I saw two people dying right here in front of me,” Cignielli told AFP, pointing at the bodies.

It was shortly after 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) on a working Monday when the speeding van hit this commercial thoroughfare in a district of high-rise residences in the north of Canada’s biggest city.

A pale but cheery sun shone after a long and grim final winter stretch even by the region’s standards. Many local people were out and about.

Nana Agyeman Badu, a 56-year-old taxi driver, saw the van heading south toward central Toronto, where ministers from the G7 world powers were holding a security conference. Then the van swerved onto the sidewalk.

“I thought maybe he was making a delivery. But I was thinking, ‘Why would he drive in the pedestrian walkway like that?’ Very fast. Then I saw he had already run over some people,” the witness said.

“A lady was walking toward the car close to a bus shelter. The truck pinged the lady through the bus shelter and she fell back and all the broken glass fell onto her,” he added.

“I stopped and ran out to help her. The truck continued going and going and going.”

The truck smashed a yellow fire hydrant, a few newspaper dispensers and there, a bit further, lie a pair of sneakers.

“They belong to a victim,” a police officer said.

Some in a crowd that gathered by the police tape as dozens of rescue vehicles were deployed were dumbfounded. “It is a dangerous crossroads,” one woman suggested.

“Oh, it was no accident,” declared another passerby.