SWABI: Unidentified gunmen shot dead six women and a male medical technician working for a non-governmental organisation (NGO) near the Anbar Interchange on the Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway on Tuesday.
Sources said the armed men opened fire on the van (LE-1094) taking the workers home after performing duty at the Ujala Community Centre, killing six women and the technician on the spot.
The driver of the vehicle sustained injuries while four-year-old Ahsan, son of one of the women, miraculously escaped unhurt in the attack. The victims belonged to different parts of Swabi. The van’s left and back side were pockmarked with bullet holes. The community centre is being run by the Support With Working Solutions (SWWS), a local NGO, and the deceased were working there. Established in Sher Afzal Banda, the centre was providing health and education services to the poverty-stricken people in the area.
The injured driver, identified as Abdul Majid, was taken to the Bacha Khan Medical Complex at Shahmansoor town from where he was referred to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar due to his critical condition. The victims were identified as Amjad Ali, Naila Naz, Gul Naz, Asmat Begum, Raheela Gul, Zahida Begum and Shuharat Begum.
Talking to this scribe, District CoordinationOfficer (DCO) Syed Muhammad Shah said unidentified terrorists killed the NGO workers.He said the victims were ordered to disembark from the vehicle and killed one by one. “How can someone kill women? There is no doubt that it is an act of terrorism,” he said.
District Police Officer (DPO) Abdul Rashid, who was present at the hospital, said that it was the first incident in the district that the members of an NGO were targeted. “There are a number of such bodies that are providing services to the people. In the past no such incident occurred in Swabi,” the DPO said. He said police were put on alert after the incident, but no arrest could be made.
He dismissed the reports that the attackers were four in number. “In fact there were two motorcyclists who attacked the victims,” he said.Shahid Khan, senior social organiser at SWWS, told this correspondent that the school and the health centre had been set up with the view to provide health and education facilities to the people at Sher Afzal Banda and its surroundings.
He said their main office was located at the Kernal Sher Khan Killay and had another office in Chaknoda union council.Shahid Khan said the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and other donor agencies were providing funds to their organisation.
He said they had not received any threat and were imparting education to the children and providing health services to the destitute people. “This is the first time that our workers have been targeted,” he said.
He said the SWWS management would decide whether to continue its activities or not.SWWS Chief Executive Javed Akhtar said they have suspended services in the country after the gruesome attack on their staff members in Swabi. “We have suspended operations due to the threats to our staffers. We have 160 staffers, mostly women, working in health and education sectors in the underdeveloped areas,” Javed Akhtar said.
Javed Akhtar said they had been working in Swabi for last two years, but never faced any security threat. “We have been working in Pakistan since 1992 and started services in Swabi two years ago. We have never faced any threat as all our staff is local. This incident seems to be linked to the attacks on polio teams,” he said.