TIMERGARA: Two policemen escorting a polio vaccination team were martyred when armed men opened fire on them at Markhanai Bridge within the jurisdiction of Lal Qila police station on Wednesday, residents and police said.
They were identified as Farmanullah of Toormang and Mukkaram Khan of Sangolai. Sources said both were on their way to join a polio team in the Bishgram union council of Maidan. The attackers targeted them when they walked to Markhanai Bridge.
The incident spread fear and panic not only across the Maidan area but other parts of the district also.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Security for polio teams was enhanced in the neighbouring Bajaur district. Police launched a search and strike operation in the area after the incident. The Lal Qila police registered a case and started an investigation.
Funeral prayer for the martyrs was offered at the Timergara police line. DPO Arif Shahbaz Wazir, Commandant Dir Task Force Col Mujtaba Haidar and other civil and military officers attended the funeral.
Maidan was once a stronghold of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and in 2009 the TTP had taken control of the area.
The militants were flushed out after a military operation in the area. Maidan is also the native town of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi chief Maulana Sufi Mohammad.
When contacted, Lower Dir DPO Shaukat Ali said the polio eradication campaign was halted only in the Bishgram union council where the incident occurred, adding that the district polio eradication committee would decide about the fate of the drive.
He said the department had set a target to vaccinate more than 307,230 children during the drive.
The Lower Dir police in collaboration with civil society and Shakil Shaheed Development Organisation were observing the 10th anniversary of a devastating bomb blast at the Timergara police line on Wednesday but the martyrdom of the two policemen disturbed the programme.
On Dec 18, 2009, a suicide bomber blew himself up near the police line mosque after Friday prayers, killing 15 worshippers and injuring 27.
A function and walk were held to remember the martyrs of the police line blast. Deputy Commissioner Saadat Hassan, SSDO chief Peer Imtiaz Ahmad, social activists Akbar Khan and Ibrash Pasha paid tribute to the deceased. Floral wreaths were laid on Yadgar-i-Shuhada on the occasion. The speakers condemned the attack on the policemen in Maidan and termed it a cowardice act.
Meanwhile, KP Inspector General of Police Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan paid tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the two policemen who embraced martyrdom.
He said the two had embraced martyrdom for the defence of the nation and declared them real heroes of the nation.
He said that the welfare of the heirs of both martyrs and solution of their confronting problems was his prime responsibility and vowed that those involved in the gruesome act will be brought to justice very soon.