Anti-polio campaign: Police arrests nine more suspects for attacking Peshawar hospital
PESHAWAR: Police on Wednesday arrested nine more suspects for falsely claiming the illness and hospitalization of schoolchildren in Mashokhel village and setting a hospital on fire with the aim to spread panic and misinformation about the ongoing countrywide anti-polio campaign.
Earlier, police arrested a suspect identified as Nazar Muhammad, a resident of Peshawar’s Mashokhel area, on Tuesday after videos circulating on social media showed him standing in the hospital, where the children from a local school were admitted on Monday with complaints of illness following administration of the anti-polio vaccine, and instructing them to “fall asleep” and pretend to be unconscious.
While talking to media, Superintendent of Police (SP) Peshawar Sahibzada Sajjad said that the school principal’s brother was among the nine arrested for damaging the property of the medical complex.
He added that the nine suspects were arrested after being identified in videos and two pistols and as many Kalashnikovs were seized from their possession.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Monday launched a three-day anti-polio campaign, in which thousands of polio workers were tasked to visit schools and madrassas to administer the oral anti-polio vaccine to children under five years of age.
In the midst of the campaign, around 40 children from a school in Mashokhel village were brought to a hospital with complaints of diarrhea, nausea and headache. As the news of the children’s supposed illness spread like wildfire in Peshawar and nearby areas, panicked parents started rushing their children to hospitals.
The main hospitals of the provincial capital were soon flooded with anxious parents bringing in their children.
Despite assurances from the authorities that the anti-polio vaccine was completely safe, enraged residents broke down the main gate and set fire at the Mashokhel Hospital in Peshawar.