Policeman guarding polio vaccine workers killed in Pakistan

Gunmen shot and killed a police officer guarding a team of polio vaccine handlers in north-western Pakistan on Tuesday, in the latest attack against health workers part of a campaign to eradicate the disease, officials said.

The gun attack occurred in a remote village of Karak district in the conservative and volatile province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, police official Lal Rahman told dpa.

The incident occurred a day after authorities launched a week-long vaccination drive under the UN-funded campaign aimed at eradicating polio, which is still prevalent in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The health workers escaped the attack unhurt, Rahman said.

The health workers, mostly young women, and police guards go door-to-door all across the country to give vaccinate children up to the age of five, multiple times a year.

Militants linked with al-Qaeda often attack health workers. Dozens of vaccine handlers and security officials have been killed by Taliban militants in the past.

The militants accuse the health workers of acting as spies and claim the polio vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile.

Polio is a disease that especially affects children, and can cripple people for life.

Source: GNA

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