Gunmen have killed six health workers in two Pakistani cities at the beginning of a government polio vaccination campaign, officials say. On Tuesday, four female polio workers were gunned down in a series of apparently coordinated attacks within an hour in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi. Another worker was also killed in the northwestern city of Peshawar which is located near Pakistan’s tribal areas. Meanwhile, on Monday gunmen shot dead a man working on a local government-World Health Organization (WHO) anti-polio project in Karachi.
Following the shootings, Islamabad suspended the anti-polio drive in Karachi, said Sagheer Ahmed, the health minister for Sindh province where the city is located.The polio campaign began on Monday and was supposed to run until Wednesday in the Asian country where the highly infectious crippling disease is still epidemic. In June, Taliban militants in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region ordered a ban on polio vaccination campaign, saying it could be a cover-up for the US espionage in the country. The Taliban further said they would not allow the vaccination campaign to be conducted as long as the US continues its assassination drone attacks in their region. “As long as drone strikes are not stopped in Waziristan there will be a ban on administering polio jabs,” Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur said in pamphlets distributed in the city of Miranshah in the North Waziristan region. MR/PKH