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Pakistan: Five policemen on polio duty killed in blast at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Bajaur, 22 wounded

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where polio remains endemic as of date and vaccination teams are frequently attacked. Pakistan has witnessed a dramatic spike in militant attacks, mainly in its border regions with Afghanistan, since the Taliban returned to power in 2021.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Peshawar Updated on: January 08, 2024 14:21 IST
Polio still remains endemic in Pakistan.
Image Source : AP/FILE Polio still remains endemic in Pakistan.

At least five policemen deployed to provide security to polio vaccination teams were killed while 27 others were wounded in a bomb explosion near a police vehicle in the Bajaur district of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The death toll is expected to rise further, according to officials.

The deceased and injured have been shifted to Khar hospital, where an emergency was declared, Geo News reported citing the officials. Malakand division Commissioner Saqib Raza told Dawn that the ongoing polio campaign in the area was suspended as a result.

The cops were deployed to provide security to polio vaccination teams. The seriously injured people were taken to Peshawar via a helicopter and the area was cordoned off. Caretaker KP Chief Minister Arshad Hussain Shah condemned the blast and expressed his grief on the “martyrdom of police officials”.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman condemned the attack and said that the "terrorists have attacked not only the police but also the health of our children". "An attack on the security of the anti-polio team should not be tolerated under any circumstances, it is directly related to the health of our children," she added.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic and vaccination teams are frequently targeted by militants. Extensive preparations have been made for the seven-day nationwide anti-polio campaign starting Monday.

Karachi Commissioner Muhammad Salim Rajput has directed polio workers to achieve a 100 per cent target in vaccinating children under five years of age with polio drops for at least the next five years. He stressed that unless every child receives these drops, the threat of the polio virus spread will persist.

Attacks in Pakistan

Pakistan has witnessed a dramatic spike in militant attacks, mainly in its border regions with Afghanistan, since the Taliban returned to power in 2021, especially from the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), which shares a similar ideological base and has been said to have taken refuge on Afghan soil.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has become the hotspot for terrorist incidents as statistics reveal that 470 people were killed in over 1,oo0 terror-related incidents in 2023. Data from the provincial home department and tribal affairs shows that 698 security personnel and citizens were killed in 1,823 terror-related incidents during the past three years.

Last month, 23 soldiers were killed in the unruly Dera Ismail Khan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last month that shook thenation. The terrorists rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into the building of the police station, which was followed by a mortar attack.

ALSO READ | Pakistan: Hindu candidate Saveera Parkash vows to build better ties with India ahead of general elections

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