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Police Officer Protecting Polio Vaccine Team Shot Dead In Pakistan

A police officer stands guard while a health-care worker administers a polio vaccine to a child in Karachi, Pakistan, in June. (file photo)

Unknown assailants have shot dead a police constable guarding polio vaccine workers in northwest Pakistan where a five-day immunization campaign is under way this week, police said on September 19.

The attack happened in Dhal Behzadi village in the district of Kohat, about 75 kilometers south of Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, senior officer Khalid Suhail said.

Members of the vaccination team were unhurt in the attack. Police said they launched a probe into the incident.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault, but militants linked with Al-Qaeda often target polio vaccinators and their security escorts. They claim that the vaccination campaigns are a Western plot to sterilize children.

Aimal Khan, provincial spokesman for the anti-polio program, said that security for the vaccination teams has been enhanced after the attack.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two remaining countries in the world where polio is endemic.

The anti-polio drive in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa aims to vaccinate 6.24 million children up to the age of five across the province. Khan said nearly 30,340 teams of trained workers were going home to administer the vaccines.

It's part of a nationwide program to eradicate polio in the country by the end of 2021. No new polio cases have been reported in Pakistan so far this year.

Based on reporting by AP and