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Gunmen Target Polio Vaccination Teams In Afghanistan, Killing Five

People shift the body of one of the polio vaccination workers who was killed in Jalalabad on June 15.

JALALABAD, Afghanistan -- Gunmen on June 15 targeted several polio vaccination teams in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least five of the medical workers. It was the second such assault against polio vaccination teams in the area in less than three months.

Attaullah Khoqyani, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar Province, told RFE/RL that in addition to the five polio vaccinators who were killed, four others were wounded.

Provincial police spokesman Farid Khan says the victims were killed in three different locations of Nangarhar Province within two hours as part of what he called a "coordinated attack."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Both Islamic State (IS) extremists and Taliban militants are active in the area.

In March, IS extremists in Afghanistan said they shot and killed three women who were part of a polio vaccination team in Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar.

Despite struggling with a third surge in coronavirus cases, the Afghan government has in recent months sought to inoculate 9.6 million children against polio with the help of UNICEF. In 2020, Afghanistan reported 54 new cases of polio.

Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are the only two countries in the world where polio is endemic. In 2020, Nigeria was declared free of the poliovirus.

Last week, two policemen who were providing security to polio vaccinators in northwest Pakistan were shot and killed by gunmen.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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