Peshawar (AFP): A polio worker was gunned down Wednesday as he was administering vaccines to children in northwest Pakistan, officials said, the latest casualty in the country’s long campaign against the crippling disease.
The incident occurred in Jamrud area of the tense Khyber tribal district that borders Afghanistan and was once a haven for Taliban militants, though recent military operations have put the insurgents under pressure there.
“A polio worker was shot at as he was administering polio drops in Jamrud area of Khyber,” local administration official Asmat Ullah Wazir told AFP.
He said the worker succumbed to his injuries as he was rushed to the hospital.
The incident was confirmed by another local administration official who said it was the third day of the anti-polio drive in the province.
Nobody claimed responsibility for the incident but Taliban militants have attacked polio workers in the province in the past. More than a hundred people have been killed in such attacks since December 2012.
Islamist opposition to all forms of inoculation grew after the CIA organised a fake vaccination drive to help track down Al-Qaeda’s former leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad. He was killed there by US forces in 2011.
Despite the attacks, Pakistan hopes to be removed from the list of polio-endemic countries by 2018 by achieving its goal of no fresh cases for a year.
Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio, a crippling childhood disease, remains endemic.