Islamabad, Oct 27 (EFE).- A security officer guarding a polio vaccination team was shot dead on Thursday in a fresh attack by unidentified assailants in southwestern Pakistan, a country where hardliners consider these immunization campaigns to be “anti-Islamic.”
“Unidentified motorbike riders shot dead the security personnel who was guarding a female polio vaccination team” in the Ambar Ganji area in the restive Balochistan province, Muhammed Ramzan, an official at the Quetta police control room, told EFE.
After the attack, authorities swept the area to try and identify the attackers, but have not succeeded so far, he added.
The attack comes two days after a similar incident, when a policeman escorting a team of polio vaccinators was shot dead in Balochistan’s Pishin.
The teams are part of a five-day national campaign to immunize around 25 million children below the age of 5 against polio in 83 districts of Pakistan, after an outbreak of the disease was reported in the western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province.
Children in Pakistan are still threatened by the crippling polio virus.
The country has reported 20 poliomyelitis cases, all in KPK, so far this year, after detecting the first case in KPK’s North Waziristan district in April this year after a gap of 15 months.
This was the longest the country has gone without registering a case since eradication efforts began in 1994.
Pakistan had reported only one polio case in 2021.
Militants including the Taliban regularly attack polio vaccination teams and police escorting them, claiming the drive is part of a Western or anti-Islamic conspiracy to curb the birth-rate of Muslims by causing infertility.
Such attacks increased after the American spy agency CIA ran a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign to hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US commandos in 2011 in Pakistan. EFE