ISLAMABAD: A police officer was shot dead in northwestern Pakistan Tuesday when a polio vaccination team he was escorting was attacked in a drive-by shooting.
The attack in Karak, a town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, marked the second day of a five-day national immunisation drive.
The United Nations says endemic polio has been eliminated in every country of the world apart from Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan, where vaccination teams are viewed with suspicion.
Islamist opposition to vaccines grew after the CIA organised a fake inoculation drive that helped them track down Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.
Large security details are now frequently deployed with vaccine teams — particularly in the restive northwest.
“A policeman escorting a polio team came under attack.. they came on a motorcycle and opened fire from the back,” said Naqeeb Khan, a police official in Karak.
“The policeman was killed on the spot,” he told AFP.
Another senior police official in the town confirmed details of the incident.
The challenges faced by polio teams have sparked fears that any drive to inoculate the population against the coronavirus will also run into problems.
The latest polio effort aims to vaccinate more than 40 million children under the age of five across Pakistan with the help of around 285,000 frontline workers.
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