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Two Pakistani Policemen Protecting Polio Team Shot Dead

A health worker administers polio vaccine to children during a polio vaccination door-to-door campaign in Karachi on June 7.

Pakistani officials say two police officers assigned to protect polio vaccination workers have been shot dead in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The attack occurred in the Mardan district on June 9 as health workers were administering polio drops to children, police official Omar Ali said.

According to police officer Zahid Ullah, "two attackers came on a motorcycle and one of them shot at the policemen, both of whom died at the scene."

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes two days after Pakistan launched a five-day campaign to vaccinate more than 30 million children under the age of 5 against the highly infectious, water-borne disease that can cause irreversible paralysis.

Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan are the only two remaining countries in the world where polio is still prevalent.

Pakistani militants often target anti-polio teams and police assigned to protect them, claiming the vaccination campaigns are intended to sterilize children and that health workers are acting as spies.

The vaccination campaigns have also been hampered by some parents’ refusal to have their children vaccinated.

Only one case of polio has been officially reported in Pakistan so far this year.

In 2020, a total of 84 cases were registered in the country, including 22 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP