Islamabad, June 28 (EFE).- A polio immunizer and two escorting police officers were killed by suspected militants Tuesday in northwest Pakistan, authorities said.
The incident happened in the tribal region of North Waziristan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is home to 11 instances of the extremely contagious virus detected this year.
During the shooting, a 17-year-old, who was walking by, also received a gunshot wound to his foot.
Pakistan began a nationwide anti-polio vaccination campaign Monday to immunize 12.6 million kids in 67 areas with a very high risk of contracting the disease.
“Unknown gunmen opened fire on the polio team at 8 am in which two policemen and one male vaccinator were killed on the spot,” Nafid Ullah, a police officer in Miranshah, told EFE over the telephone.
According to the nation’s anti-polio program, the five-day campaign is being carried out by more than 100,000 trained and committed personnel.
The only two places in the world where the poliovirus is still present are Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The nation went 15 months without a case before Pakistan reported its first incidence of polio in the North Waziristan area in April of this year.
It is the most prolonged period since the country’s polio eradication efforts began in 1994.
Only one incidence was recorded by the nation last year.
Pakistan’s 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.
Such attacks increased after the United States 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.
Since 1994, Pakistan has been fighting to end the crippling poliovirus from the country.
The country of 220 million people has reduced polio cases by up to 99 percent since the early 1990s. EFE