Gunmen kill two women polio workers, policeman in Pakistan

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic and attempts to eradicate the disease have been badly hit by opposition from militants and attacks on immunisation teams (AFP Photo/Rizwan Tabassum) (AFP)

Gunmen on Tuesday killed two female polio workers and a police guard in northwest Pakistan, the latest in a spate of deadly attacks on the immunisation teams. Police said two attackers fired at the workers as they gave polio drops to children in the mountainous Sheikhabad area, 60 kilometres (37 miles) northeast of the city of Mansehra. "The two-member team was administering polio drops in an Afghan refugee camp and its surrounding areas when two gunmen opened fire on them, killing one lady worker and a policeman and wounding another lady worker and a passer-by," local police chief Muhammad Ejaz Khan told AFP. He said the second woman polio worker later died of her wounds. Another senior local police official, Akhtar Hayat, confirmed the incident and casualties. Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic. Attempts to eradicate it have been badly hit by militant attacks on immunisation teams that have claimed 77 lives since December 2012. The militants claim the polio vaccination drive is a front for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilise Muslims. Last year the number of polio cases recorded in Pakistan soared to 306, the highest in 14 years.