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Taliban Gunmen Kill Two Pakistani Police Escorting Polio Team

A health worker administers polio-vaccine drops to children in Peshawar on December 16.

Taliban militants in Pakistan have shot and killed two police officers who had been deployed to protect a polio vaccination team in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The unknown assailants opened fire as the officers were heading to a basic health unit in the Maidan area of the Lower Dir district, local police told RFE/RL on December 18.

They said a search was under way to find the gunmen.

Muhammad Khorasani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said the militant group was behind the attack.

In the past decade, Taliban militants have killed scores of health workers and police guarding them because they believe anti-polio vaccination campaigns are intended to sterilize Pakistani children.

Pakistan, where polio is still endemic, regularly carries out anti-polio drives.

A five-day vaccination campaign launched this week is targeting more than 39 million children under the age of five, as the number of people affected by the crippling disease surged to 103 this year.

The number had fallen to eight in 2017 and 12 the following year, according to official figures.