Pakistan Doctors Live in Fear after Spike in Deadly Attacks


Dr. Raza was waiting for his next patient when two young men walked into the consultation room, took pistols from a bag and shot him six times. Left for dead, the Pakistani physician was badly wounded but somehow survived.

Raza, who gave only one name to protect his identity, is one of dozens of doctors to be targeted by Islamist militants and criminals in recent years, spreading dread among senior medics and putting pressure on Pakistan's overburdened health system.

"I tried to duck by covering my face, and I took the brunt of the bullets on my arms and fingers," Raza said of the attack a few months ago in the southern port city of Karachi.

"One bullet got deflected by a stone-studded ring on my finger," he told Reuters. He said the round may otherwise have hit his head.

Raza was initially treated at a Karachi hospital before he and his family went into hiding. Realizing he needed specialist treatment to restore full function to his hands, he traveled toAustralia for more surgery.

When he called friends to tell them he and his family had arrived safely, they told him another colleague had been killed.

A record 26 doctors were killed in Pakistan last year, according to police, three times the number in 2010. Most were in Karachi, Pakistan's teeming commercial hub of 20 million people, where militant violence and crime are common.

This article continues at on the Reuters website.