News Column

Pakistan Polio Vaccinators Attacked, Policeman Killed

Jan. 29, 2013

Gunmen attacked a polio vaccination team in Pakistan's north-western region Tuesday, killing a policeman guarding the health workers, official said.

The shooting in Swabi district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province took place on the second day of the latest anti-polio effort that was halted last month after a series of attacks on immunization teams.

"Three masked men, riding a single motorcycle, opened fire on the health team in Gullu Deri area," police officer Wajid Khan said by phone. "The two female workers remained unhurt, but a policeman accompanying them was killed."

Pakistani authorities decided to deploy security with the health workers after nine of them were gunned down last month in the southern port city of Karachi and the north-western tribal region.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Officials said a three-day anti-polio campaign was launched in selected areas on Monday after military and civilian officials agreed to provide security.

Campaign spokesman Mazhar Nisar, said Monday that the central government had abandoned the nationwide immunization plan, to allow local authorities to decide when and where it was safe to work.

Pakistan is one of the last three countries struggling to eliminate polio.

Efforts to eradicate the crippling disease have met with resistance due to rumours that the vaccine causes infertility. Taliban insurgents also accuse aid agencies of using the campaign to gather military intelligence.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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