Gunmen on bikes opened fireplace on Pakistani police escorting a workforce of polio employees Tuesday throughout a door-to-door inoculation marketing campaign in a former Pakistani Taliban stronghold, killing two policemen and a polio employee, police mentioned.

Nobody instantly claimed duty for the assault in North Waziristan, a district within the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The assault got here a day after the federal government launched one other nationwide anti-polio marketing campaign amid a spike in assaults.

A passerby was additionally wounded, mentioned Aziz Ullah, a neighborhood police official. The attackers fled the scene.

Since April, Pakistan has registered 11 new polio circumstances — all in North Waziristan, the place mother and father typically refuse to inoculate kids. The outbreak has been a blow to the Islamic nation’s efforts to eradicate the illness, which might trigger extreme paralysis in kids.

Pakistan’s anti-polio campaigns are frequently marked by violence. Islamic militants typically goal polio groups and police assigned to guard them, falsely claiming the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize kids.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the one nations on the planet the place polio stays endemic. In 2021, Pakistan reported just one case, elevating hopes it was near eradicating polio.

North Waziristan was a base for myriad militant teams, together with the Pakistani Taliban, till a large navy offensive in recent times claimed to have cleared the area, forcing many militants to flee to Afghanistan. However assaults have been rising recently, including to issues the assaults might additional jeopardize anti-polio campaigns.

The U.N. kids’s company posted an enchantment Tuesday on Twitter, urging mother and father to inoculate their kids. The purpose of the most recent marketing campaign was to vaccinate 12.6 million kids beneath the age of 5 throughout Pakistan.

“Collectively, we are able to #EndPolio! Please be sure that each baby is immunized in opposition to this lethal virus,” UNICEF mentioned.

Shahzad Baig, a coordinator for Pakistan’s polio program, additionally urged “all mother and father and caregivers to get their kids vaccinated as an alternative of hiding them or refusing to (allow them to) take the required drops.”

“You will need to understand that the polio virus nonetheless exists in our environment and no baby is secure till all kids are actually vaccinated,” Baig added.

Shuja Khan, a Pakistani father whose son was affected by polio in North Waziristan, posted a video message on Twitter. Holding his boy in his lap, he appealed on mother and father to inoculate their kids and keep away from his household’s ordeal.

Till this week, Pakistan’s well being authorities had carried out three nationwide anti-polio drives this 12 months — in January, March and in Could. Throughout the March marketing campaign, gunmen in northwestern Pakistan shot and killed a feminine polio employee as she was returning dwelling after a day of vaccinations.

And in January, gunmen shot and killed a police officer offering safety for polio vaccination employees, additionally within the nation’s northwest.


Related Press author Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this story.

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