7 NGO workers shot dead in Swabi
* Six of the dead are women; motive not yet ascertained
PESHAWAR: Seven persons, including six women, working for a nongovernmental organisation, were gunned down on Tuesday in Swabi district bordering former Taliban stronghold Malakand, police said.
The driver of the vehicle carrying the local NGO staff was wounded critically, District Police Officer Abdur Rashid told local media. “The gunmen were waiting for the NGO staff by the roadside and ambushed their van when it reached there,” said the police officer who, however, did not say what the motive of the killing was. Five of the women were teachers, the sixth was a health worker and the man worked as a health technician, officials said.
“Four men came on two motorbikes. They attacked their van, a Toyota HiAce. They opened fire to the right and left of the van and fled,” said Abdul Rashid Khan, Swabi police chief. An employee for Support With Working Solutions (SWWS) organisation, working on health and education, told Daily Times that the van was on its way from a centre of the NGO when the gunmen ambushed it at Sher Afzal Kalley near Anbar Interchange in Swabi. The SWWS workers were returning from their school and health centre and were on their way home. The unidentified gunmen, probably riding a motorbike, sprayed their vehicle with bullets.
Swabi has experienced several Taliban attacks in recent times. However, it is for the first time that the staff of an NGO was attacked so brazenly. No group claimed responsibility for the attack “Motive of the attack has not been known yet and we are investigating the attack,” said Abdur Rashid. The SWWS works for health, education and vocational training of women, besides maternal and child mortality and reproductive health issues, a local journalist said. No arrest was made until the filing of this report.
Police said they were investigating whether there was any link to the Taliban or other militants, who have been blamed for past attacks on charity workers and on health education projects in particular. The attack took place about 65 kilometres from the capital in the Swabi district. The victims were all Pakistanis and worked for the local charity Ujalla.