Pakistani authorities have announced that extremists have ambushed aauto of the police, intended to surveil the operators of the anti-polio teams in the north-west of Pakistan, injuring five policemen.
Police returned fire after being attacked near a bridge in Dera Ismail Khan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, local police chief Amanullah said.
The police chief, who was traveling with the convoy to a nearby vaccination site, said between six and eight suspected extremists ambushed them, opened fire on the vehicle and threw grenades at the police van. .
No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but extremists often target polio vaccination teams and the police forces that protect them, under the false pretense that the vaccination campaigns are a Western plot to sterilize children.
The latest polio campaign kicked off this week and is the first in 2023.
A Taliban suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt near a truck carrying two policemen en route to protect polio workers in the southwestern city of Quetta in late November. A police soldier was killed in the truck and three family members who were in it in another car next to the truck were killed.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the November 30 attack.
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A month earlier, in October, armed men in riding a motorcycle shot and killed a police officer assigned to supervise a polio vaccination team in Balochistan, in southwestern Pakistan.
Interestingly, Pakistan is the only country in where polio is still endemic, in addition to Afghanistan, and the government constantly organizes vaccination campaigns. The latest five-day campaign kicked off this week in northwest Pakistan, the first in 2023.
Pakistan has recorded 20 new cases of polio since April, all in the northwest, where parents often refuse to vaccinate children. The outbreak has been a major blow to government efforts to eradicate it.
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