Pakistani security officials gather at the site where a policeman, providing security to a polio vaccination team, was killed by gunmen on the outskirts of Quetta in February. Two polio workers and their police escort were shot dead in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Tuesday (AFP Photo/Banaras Khan)
Two polio workers and their police escort were shot dead in Pakistan’s troubled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Tuesday, police and health officials said. The attack happened on the second day of a three-day nationwide immunization campaign aimed at eradicating the polio virus from the country. Zulfiqar Khan, a senior police officer, said that the polio team comprising two female health workers and a police constable were targeted in Sheikhabad Danna, a remote mountainous region of Mansehra district. “One health worker and police constable died instantly while the second worker was rushed to the district hospital, but she succumbed to her wounds,” he said. Khan said that security forces launched a search operation to apprehend the assailants. The victims were identified as Kinza Nargis, Sitara and Mushtaq Khan.
District Health Officer Dr Bashir Khan confirmed the killings. “We have suspended the three-day campaign in the entire district owing to security reasons,” he told ucanews.com. Hardline clerics in Pakistan have long denounced polio vaccination as a conspiracy by the West to sterilize children and suppress Muslim population growth. Opposition to the polio campaign turned violent after the CIA used a fake immunization program to trace al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Dozens of health workers and their escorts were killed in subsequent militant attacks in Pakistan. According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, polio remains endemic in three countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Last year, Pakistan recorded 306 cases of polio, by far the most of any country in the world. So far, 20 cases of polio have been recorded this year.
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