Vaccination drive: Militants briefly seize Bara tribesmen
LANDI KOTAL, March 8: Activists of the banned militant group, Lashkar-i-Islam, on Friday took away dozens of tribesmen in Akkakhel area of Bara tehsil over vaccination of their children.
However, they were freed after the intervention of a local jirga.
The relevant officials refused to share information about the incident.
Local sources told Dawn that LI local commander Nazar Mohammad along with his armed men picked up at least 50 people in Jansi area of Akkakhel after a polio team vaccinated their children.
They said the kidnappers chained all abducted people and confined them in a compound.
The sources said a jirga of local elders later got all tribesmen freed only after they agreed to pay a fine of Rs20,000 each for vaccinating their children against polio.
They said 20 abductees paid the fine forthwith, while the rest would do so soon.
Meanwhile, local officials said the health authorities with the help of security forces and local political administration had made a mechanism of ‘window of opportunity’ in Bara to carry out polio vaccination in areas, where they felt secure.
“Under the new mechanism, health teams are dispatched to areas where security forces have full control and the campaign is not confined to stipulated days,” an official said, adding that polio vaccination in Bara was a continuous process since July last year.
The officials said the health authorities had established permanent transit points at all entry and exit points of Bara in order to reach out to the maximum number of children needing vaccination.
The Friday incident was the first of its kind in Bara after July 2012 when the new polio vaccination strategy was made and put in place with 100 per cent success.
The health officials said security forces were fully cooperating with them by providing security, while the local administration identified safe localities for vaccination and persuaded local residents not to oppose vaccination of their children.
The officials said around 35,000 children under the age of five in Bara were required to be vaccinated against polio, while a good number of local children had moved out of the restive area before settling either in Jalozai Camp or in rented houses in different parts of the province, including near Peshawar.
They said Bara had reported no new polio case since July last year that showed the success of the new polio vaccination strategy jointly executed by the health department, security forces and political administration.