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Two Policemen, Polio Worker Killed In Separate Incidents In Pakistan

“Two policemen and a polio worker were killed by gunmen in separate incidents in restive northwest Pakistan on Friday, officials said,” the Los Angeles Times reports (Ali/Magnier, 12/13). “In the first attack Friday, gunmen opened fire on two officers as they were riding on a motorcycle to the town of Swabi, where they were supposed to protect a polio team during a vaccination drive, according to police officer Khalid Iqbal,” the Associated Press writes, adding, “Hours later, a gunman killed a polio worker on his way home after vaccinating children in Jamrud, a tribal region located on the outskirts of Peshawar” (Khan, 12/13). “No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban oppose the polio vaccination schemes, which they see as a cover for international espionage,” BBC News notes (12/13). “Militants have targeted anti-polio campaigns in Pakistan since U.S. intelligence officials used a fake vaccination program to help in their hunt for Osama bin Laden in 2011,” CNN adds (12/13).

“Opposition party leader Imran Khan condemned the killings in a statement, calling on Khyber Pakhtunkwa leaders to take ‘strong action’ to arrest those responsible and to provide additional security for polio workers,” United Press International writes (12/13). “Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where the polio virus is still endemic, but efforts to stamp out the crippling disease have been hit by repeated attacks on health teams,” according to DAWN.com (12/13). “The attacks come despite a recent fatwa by a prominent religious scholar, who urged parents to immunize their children against polio and other life-threatening diseases and said vaccinations were compliant with Sharia,” Agence France-Presse/Express Tribune notes (12/13).