PESHAWAR - Militants Tuesday threatened polio workers of dire consequences, if they participate in the ongoing three-day long drive against the deadly virus in Bajaur Agency.

Being a blow to the efforts to root out poliovirus from the country, militants through pamphlets distributed at Khar tehsil of the agency warned that those polio workers who participate in the drive would face severe consequences.

Through the pamphlet, the militants outfit said that participating in the “anti-Islamic” polio vaccination drive would be attacked. The Pashto language pamphlet pasted on walls in various parts of Haji Lawang and Muslim Bagh area of Khar added that those supporting the polio drive or participating in vaccination would be targeted.

The locals said the pamphlet contains mobile phone numbers of the residents and workers to call and seek apology if they had previously participated in the drive.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where poliovirus is still endemic but efforts to stamp out the crippling disease have been hit by repeated attacks on health teams.

So far dozens of health workers and police have been killed in attacks on polio vaccination teams in the country.

MORTAR SHELL KILLS THREE OF A FAMILY

Ahmad Nabi from Khyber Agency adds: Three tribesmen of a family including a woman and child were killed and three others sustained injuries when a stray mortar shell fired by militants landed on a house here in Bachai Nehar, Sipah area of tehsil Bara in Khyber Agency, administration and local sources said on Tuesday.

According to relative of bereaved family, the mortar shell fired late on Monday night by unknown people hit their house, located near Dogra Hospital in Sipah tribe of Bara, killing three persons of a family and wounding three others along with a female and minor girl.

The deceased were identified as Peer Mohammad, his wife Saida Khan and Bilal, 9 while the wounded included Ayesha 7, wife of Azmat and Abdullah. They were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital (LR) for treatment, local sources said.

The wife of Azmat is reportedly said to be in critical condition.

Meanwhile on the fifth consecutive day, the forces continued their operation, Khyber One, against the militants in Bara and Tirah Valley. As per Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) 2,500 families of Bara tribal region have vacated their homes and taken refuge at safer places downtown in Jamrud, Peshawar and adjacent areas.

AIRSTRIKES KILL 28

MILITANTS

AFP adds: The army Tuesday said it had killed 28 militants in airstrikes in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan near the Afghan border, a region where it has been battling militant groups for more than a decade.

The strikes, that also killed a number of foreign fighters, took place on Tuesday in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan, a stronghold of Taliban-linked groups, the military said in a statement.

Pakistan has been battling militant groups in its semi-autonomous tribal belt since 2004 after its army entered the region to search for Al-Qaeda fighters that had fled across the border following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

In June, the army began an operation in the North Waziristan Agency after a bloody raid on Karachi Airport ended faltering peace talks between the government and militants.

North Waziristan is a major base for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban), which began its campaign against the state in 2007 and also provides shelter to a number of foreign militant groups.

The United States has long called for action against militant groups in North Waziristan who have used the area as a staging post for attacks against NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Army says it has killed more than a 1000 militants and lost 86 soldiers since the start of the operation.

But the toll and identity of those killed is difficult to verify because journalists do not have regular access to the conflict zones.