AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
KARACHI: Gunmen opened fire on a UN vehicle in Pakistan's city of Karachi Tuesday, wounding a foreign doctor working on a polio immunisation campaign and a local driver, officials said.
The shooting happened in the low-income Soharb Ghoth neighbourhood of eastern Karachi on the second day of a widely publicised polio vaccination campaign.
Attacks on foreigners are rare in Karachi, but human rights activists say ethnic, sectarian and politically-linked violence has killed at least 740 people in the city so far this year alone.
"A WHO vehicle was fired upon with gunshots. One international staff and one local driver were injured in the incident," Maryam Yunus, spokeswoman for the United Nations' World Health Organization, told AFP.
She said the doctor from Ghana and the Pakistani doctor had been transferred to a private hospital in the southern port city where their condition was stable.
"They are out of danger," Yunus said.
Police blamed the shooting on two Afghan men. Soharb Ghoth neighbourhood is home to thousands of Afghan refugees and migrants from northwest Pakistan looking for work in what is Pakistan's largest city, with a population of 18 million.
Local police station chief Mohammad Sultan said the doctor had been working in the neighbourhood for about three months, where he was vaccinating against polio.
"He was going there when firing took place," Sultan said.
Police had initially said that the doctor was critically wounded.
Local television channels broadcast footage of bullet holes in the unmarked, white double-cabin pick-up vehicle.
Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.
The three-day immunisation campaign had already attracted negative headlines over a Taliban ban in parts of Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt on the Afghan border, where officials have been forced to postpone inoculations, jeopardising the health of more than 350,000 children.
Local Taliban and Pakistani warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, whose followers are fighting Western troops in Afghanistan, banned the vaccinations in the region of Waziristan to protest against US drone attacks.
They have condemned the immunisation campaign, which began nationwide on Monday, as a cover for espionage.
Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi was jailed for 33 years in May after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme as cover.
Fighting between government troops and local warlord Mangal Bagh also made it difficult to innoculate all children in Khyber district, officials said.
Pakistan says 34 million children under five will be targeted in the campaign that runs until Wednesday.
The highly infectious disease affects mainly the under-fives and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. Some cases can be fatal.
The Lancet medical journal has said vaccination problems led last year to Pakistan's highest number of polio cases in a decade, 198, compared to 144 in 2010.