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Police Officer Killed, One Wounded, In Pakistani Taliban Attack On Polio Vaccine Team

The latest polio immunization campaign is being carried out in 156 districts across Pakistan and aims to vaccinate more than 40 million children.

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the killing of a police officer who had taken part in guarding a polio vaccination team, a frequent target of militants in Pakistan.

An officer was shot dead while another was severely wounded when two militants riding on a motorbike opened fire on them on December 10 in the northwestern Tank district, local police chief Noor Aslam told RFE/RL.

None of the polio vaccine workers was wounded in the attack.

Muhammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to RFE/RL on December 11.

The incident comes two days after the TTP declared an end to a cease-fire with government forces on December 9.

Militants in Pakistan often target polio teams and security officers assigned to protect them, claiming the vaccination campaigns are a Western plot to sterilize children.

On October 24, a policeman guarding a polio vaccination team was shot dead by two militants riding on a motorbike in Dera Ismail Khan, in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

On September 19, another policeman guarding a polio vaccination team was shot dead by militants in the city of Kohat, which is also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

On August 1, militants killed one policeman and injured another in two separate attacks in the province during a polio vaccination campaign.

The three-day campaign began on December 10 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and another such effort will be launched on December 13 in other parts of Pakistan.

The immunization campaign across the country in 156 districts aims to vaccinate more than 40 million children under the age of 5.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health officials say about 240,000 children will be vaccinated in the province during the campaign while more than 1,800 health workers are taking part in the drive.

Polio is an incurable disease transmitted through sewage that can cause paralysis and death.

Pakistan along with neighboring Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where the disease remains endemic.