A police officer was shot and killed while escorting a team of polio health workers in KPK.

Unidentified gunmen, on a motorcycle, attacked a team of polio workers in KPK’s Karak district earlier on Tuesday. A policeman escorting the team was killed during the attack, while the team remained unharmed. The assailants are still on the run.

Karak’s District Police Officer, Irfan Khan, confirmed the incident and said that an operation had been launched to apprehend to killers. He also told reporters that this incident would not affect the polio vaccination drive – which was launched nationwide on Monday.

KP Inspector General of Police, Sanaullah Abbasi, also took notice of the incident and said that the killers would be brought to justice. “The martyrdom of police is proof that security is being provided,” he added.

Pakistan has been launching polio drives regularly since 2018 in an attempt to root out the virus – being one of the only two countries in the world to record new cases of polio after Nigeria was declared polio-free last year. The country reported 12 cases in 2018, but cases have been on the rise ever since. The latest five-day drive began earlier this week, with a goal to vaccinate 40 million children.

Ever since Pakistan launched its anti-polio campaign, it has faced opposition from some religious clerics and militants. Given the Covid-19 pandemic, polio workers will face more than just the threat of militant action during this campaign but are said to be following all SOPs.

Data taken from the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio states that around 285,000 polio frontline workers will visit houses during this campaign.


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