Logar doctors threatened by armed gangs
PUL-I-ALAM (PAN): Doctors in central Logar province are being harassed and threatened, health authorities say, warning that if there is no protection for health workers, the people of the province will suffer.
Dr. Mohammad Zarif Naib Khil, head of the public health department said doctors had been threatened in Baraki Barak, Sarkh and Kharwar districts of Logar province.
“The doctors are threatened by Taliban and told to quit their jobs,” he said.
He urged the insurgents not to intimidate doctors as they were neutral and not connected to any political agenda.
“According to the policy of the public health ministry, we have told doctors to treat civilians, and everyone involved in the war,” he said. But the Taliban said they were not behind the threats and warned against armed militia claiming to be members of the insurgency.
A doctor in Sarkh district of Logar, who did not want his name to be mentioned, said armed men regularly caused problems for doctors while they were carrying out their duties.
“I don’t know who they are, and why they threaten us. They have masks on, and have weapons, and tells us if you don’t accept what are told to you, you will be killed,” he said.
Ahmad Javid, a doctor in Baraki Barak’s 20-bed hospital said he had been threatened twice this month with night letters.
“Once they stopped me as I was going somewhere and told me, ‘Quit your job, otherwise we will kill you’.
“We don’t know why they intimidate us; we are serving civilians, we are not working for political purposes. If insurgents continue to intimidate us, we will quit jobs and go somewhere else” he said.
A few days ago, insurgents robbed an ambulance in Baraki Barak district and took the driver hostage. “I was on the way to the hospital when armed people stopped me on the road and took me to unknown place,” the driver, Zubiar, said.
“Tribal elders mediated and I was released after two days,” he said.
In Porak area, a central part of Logar, Hasam Udin and another doctor in his family both received night letters warning them to quit their jobs or they would be killed.
Public health authorities and civilians are concerned about the threats and intimidation and have asked security officials for better protection for the doctors. If they are forced to quit, the province will suffer from a lack of health care, they say.
Col. Muhammad Jan Abid, head of criminal department in the provincial police headquarters, said: “We know that the security is not good in some districts, but I don’t think it is targeting doctors.
“We had one case in Baraki Barak district where doctors were threatened and their vehicle robbed,” he said, adding that no one had submitted a complaint to the police about the kidnapping.
“There are some security problems but I don’t think it is focused on the doctors.”
Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, denied that they were sending the night letters or making trouble for doctors. “We don’t have any problem with public health employees. According to our policy, we don’t create problems for doctors.
“Hospitals are open in those areas which are controlled by the Taliban, and even polio drives are implemented,” he said.
“There are some thieves and robbers who pretend to be Taliban and threaten people, but they are not Taliban. We urge all public health employees to go about their duties without any threat,” Mujahid said.
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