Polio Teams Targeted in Pak, 12 Killed

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PESHAWAR: Militants targeted two polio vaccination teams in Pakistan’s lawless North Western province Saturday killing at least 12 people, including a child, police and officials said. 10 people were wounded in the bomb attacks that took place in Khyber tribal agency.

The blasts in Lashoro area of Jamrud district were the latest attack on efforts to stamp out the crippling disease in Pakistan, which is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic.

In the first blast an escort vehicle guarding health workers was targeted while the vehicle of the line officer of the polio team was reportedly the target of the second attack minutes later.

Eleven paramilitary troops and one child died after the bombs detonated in the Lashora , 30 kilometres southwest of the city of Peshawar.

The deceased personnel were protecting a convoy of health workers who were on their way to administer anti-polio drops to children as part of a three-day campaign against polio that started Friday, officials said.

The two vehicles overran planted IEDs which exploded back to back after they were detonated through remote-controlled devices, said administration officer, Siddiq Khan.

Militant groups have banned polio vaccination as they see the vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage by Western countries. There are also long-running rumours about polio drops causing infertility.

More than 40 people, including volunteer health workers and police guarding the teams which administer polio drops to children, have been killed in Pakistan since December 2012.

WHO has warned that Peshawar is the world’s “largest reservoir” of polio.

Pakistan’s struggle to defeat polio stands in stark contrast to its neighbour and great rival India, which recently celebrated three years since its last polio case.

Afghanistan and Nigeria are the other countries where the disease remains.

Meanwhile in a separate incident three Frontier Corps (FC) personnel were killed and six others wounded in a roadside blast in Sorab area of Kalat district in neighbouring Baluchistan on Saturday. Kalat district is located about 245 kilometers off Quetta.

“FC convoy was going to Panjgur from Kalat district when it was attacked with a roadside IED,” officials said, adding that six personnel sustained splinter wounds. One of the four vehicles of the FC was also damaged in the blast.

According to security officials, around six to eight kilogrammes of explosive material were used in the blast. TRANS ASIA NEWS

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