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Swabi : 7 charity workers shot dead

SWABI – Six women and a man working for a non-governmental organisation (NGO) were shot dead on their way home from Ujala Community Centre after performing duties here on Tuesday.Driver of the vehicle was injured while a four-and-a-half-year old son of a female victim remained unhurt in the attack.The community centre where the victims were working is run by Support With Working Solution (SWWS), a local NGO. Located in Sher Afzal Banda, the centre was providing health facilities and imparting education to poverty-stricken masses of the area. The charity was running a primary school in the area with a strength of 150 students, said Kifayatullah, a local school teacher.

The victims, belonging to different localities of the district, were being driven back to their home in a van when, near Anbar Interchange of Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway, gunmen appeared and sprayed bullets on them.

Six women and a technician were killed on the spot while the driver, Abdul Majeed, sustained injuries and shifted to Bacha Khan Medical Complex at Shahmansoor and later to Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar. The attackers made a good escape after committing the crime. Four-year-old Ahsan, who remained unhurt in the attack, told this correspondent in a scary tone that, “There was firing, intense firing.” Uttering these words he started crying bitterly. Bullet marks could easily be seen on left and back side of the van. When asked, District Coordination Officer Syed Muhammad Shah said it was a terror act and obliviously they were killed by terrorists. “No one else can indulge himself in such a brutal act,” he said.To a question, he said the victims were taken out of the vehicle and killed one by one. He said the victims could not resist because they did not have any weapons. “No doubt it was an act of terrorism,” he said.District police officer Abdul Rashid said it was for the first time that members of an NGO were targeted.

He said a number of NGOs were operating in the district but no such incident had happened in the past. He said police force was alert in the district but no arrest had been made so far. He rejected the claim that the attackers were four in number. “In fact there were two motorcyclists who attacked the victims and killed them,” he said.Shahid Khan, a senior social organiser of SWWS, told this correspondent that school and health centre was providing health and education facilities to the poverty-stricken people of Sher Afzal Banda area and its surrounding regions.

He said the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Programme and other agencies had been funding their organisation.To another question, he said they had not received any threat from anyone. “This is for the first time that our workers have been targeted,” he maintained. He said management of the SWWS would decide to continue work in the area or not. “Right now our board is having a meeting,” he said.The victims were identified as technician Amjad Ali, lady health visitor Naila Naz, and five teachers Gul Naz, Asmat Begum, Rahila Gul, Zahida Begum and Shohrat Begum.

Agencies add: Police said the women workers were aged 20 to 35 and the male health technician was 52.Other charity workers in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa called for protection.“Schools and NGOs have been threatened in the recent past. Several government schools had been bombed in the last several months,” said Rooh ul-Amin, who heads an umbrella organisation of charities in Swabi.He said eight months ago the guest house where he receives visitors was bombed and another bomb was found near his office four months ago.Idrees Kamal, the coordinator of Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (PCSN), demanded that the killers be arrested, and called for protection and compensation.“PCSN will formulate a joint strategy to tackle the matter,” he said in a statement.