ucanews.com reporter, Karachi
Updated: December 07, 2014 09:59 PM GMT
Pakistani volunteers shift an injured female polio health worker at a hospital in Quetta, where gunmen killed four polio workers last month (AFP photo/Banaras Khan)
Two Pakistani policemen tasked with guarding polio vaccinators were shot dead in the country’s northwestern region on Monday, an official said.
The attack took place in a remote area of Buner district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
District police officer Asiq Iqbal said that the slain policemen were shot when arriving at a local health facility to escort polio workers.
“Din Muhammad, a retired soldier, and Constable Muhammad Usman were shot at in Pirbaba area, resulting in their instant death,” Iqbal said.
He said police have launched a search operation to apprehend the assailants.
Dr Atiq, a district health officer, said that the three-day polio campaign would continue despite the attack.
The latest shooting follows the killing of four polio workers in Quetta in late November.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. But Taliban militants have been behind a series of shootings in the country’s northwest region and in Karachi, and have been known to target polio vaccinators.
For many years, extremists have spread conspiracy theories that polio vaccinations are used by Western countries to suppress Muslim population growth. Some militant groups say health workers are spies for the United States and that the vaccine will make children sterile.
Such rumors have been fueled in part by the 2011 killing of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Covert operatives used a vaccination program to gather information that led to bin Laden’s killing. Since then, there has been a surge in violent attacks on health workers.
Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic. This year, there have been 306 recorded cases of polio globally, according to the World Health Organization.
Pakistan is home to at least 272 of them.