Polio vaccination teams targeting in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Afghan officials say that Gunmen on Tuesday targeted members of polio teams in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least four staffers, officials said. No militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in the city of Jalalabad. Along with the four killed, at least three members of the polio vaccination teams were wounded, said Dr. Jan Mohammad, who coordinates the anti-polio drive for the country’s east.

Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are the only two remaining countries in the world where polio is endemic, after Nigeria was last year declared free of the virus. In March, the Islamic State group said it shot and killed three women who were part of a polio vaccination team, also in Jalalabad, the capital of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. In Pakistan also, attacks on polio vaccination teams are more frequent, where the Pakistani Taliban and other militants regularly stage attacks on polio teams and security forces escorting them. They also target vaccination centers and health workers, claiming that anti-polio drives are part of an alleged Western conspiracy to sterilize children or collect intelligence. Last week, two policemen who were providing security to polio vaccinators were shot and killed in northwest Pakistan.