2 Pakistani cops killed in attack against polio vaccination team

Islamabad, Aug 16 (EFE).- Two police officers accompanying a polio vaccination team were on Tuesday killed in an attack by three unidentified assailants in northwestern Pakistan.

The incident took place in the semi-tribal Tank district of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, when “terrorists who were in hiding opened fire on the polio team at 10.30 am,” Qudrat Ullah, an officer at the district police control room, told EFE.

The assailants also shot at two of the health workers present at the spot, they escaped unhurt, but the police officers deployed as security for the team were killed in the attack.

“The terrorists took away the motorbike of the health workers and fled the scene,” Ullah said.

He added that security forces were at the scene of crime collecting evidence and recording witness statements, while no arrests had been made so far.

The polio vaccination activity is part of a 10-day campaign against poliomyelitis that kicked off on Monday in different parts of the country, including six districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

Polio continues to be an active threat for Pakistani children, with 14 fresh cases being reported this year, all of them in KPK.

The south Asian nation reported the first of these cases in North Waziristan district of KPK in April this year after a span of 15 months – the longest the country has gone without a case since eradication efforts began in 1994.

Only one incidence was recorded by the nation last year.

However, the authorities’ efforts to eradicate polio have often been hampered by conservative parents who refuse to get their children immunized, believing it part of a Western plot to sterilize children.

Militants regularly attack polio teams and the police escorting them, believing the drive to be a part of the same conspiracy and calling it “anti-Islamic.”

On Jun. 28, two police officers and a vaccinator were killed by suspected militants in the same North Waziristan region.

On Saturday, Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Abdul Shakoor, who represents the northwestern tribal areas, warned that residents of the region would boycott polio-vaccination campaigns if the government did not manage to restore peace there. EFE


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