The Guardian

Five police officers from Pakistan's polio protection team killed in bomb attack

A roadside bomb killed at least five police officers sent to protect polio vaccination workers in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, officials said.

“A police truck transporting around 25 police officers on a polio eradication mission was targeted by an IED,” Anwar ul Haq, a senior government official in Bajaur district, told AFP. Told.

He said at least five police officers were killed and at least 20 injured.

Kashif Zulfiqar, a senior police officer in the district, also confirmed the death toll.

The attack took place in Mahmund, Bajar district, about 14 kilometers from the border with Afghanistan.

No one has directly claimed responsibility for the attack, but Islamic extremists, including the Pakistani Taliban, have killed scores of polio vaccination workers and their security guards in the past.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries where polio, a debilitating virus that can cause lifelong disability, remains endemic.

Opposition to vaccinations grew after the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency organized a fake vaccination drive in the Pakistani outpost of Abbottabad to help track down former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Clerics in Pakistan's restive and mountainous border region with Afghanistan have also spread false information that doses of the oral vaccine contain traces of pork and alcohol, which are forbidden in Islam.

Pakistan will postpone its general elections to February 8 as it faces overlapping security, economic and political crises.

After the Taliban returned to power in 2021, Pakistan saw a dramatic spike in attacks by insurgents, mainly in the border region with Afghanistan.

The number of casualties from attacks and state counterterrorism operations reached the highest in six years last year, with more than 1,500 civilians, security forces and militants killed, according to the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies. .

Islamabad claims the hostile group operates from a “sanctuary” across the border, a charge the Taliban government has consistently denied.

The biggest threat to Pakistan is the Taliban's domestic branch known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which shares a common lineage with Kabul's new rulers.

A U.N. Security Council report last year said, “The Taliban harbors and allows active support for Pakistan's Tehreek Taliban, which numbers between 4,000 and 6,000 members in Afghanistan.”


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