At least five police officers tasked with protecting polio vaccinators in northwest Pakistan were killed Monday when a bomb exploded in their vehicle, we learned from administrative and police sources.
“A police truck carrying around 25 police officers responsible for the anti-polio campaign was hit by an I.E.T. [engin explosif improvisé] »Anwar ul-Haq, a senior administrative official in Bajaur district, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
According to this source, five police officers were killed and 21 injured. District Superintendent of Police Kaship Zulfikar confirmed the death toll. The blast occurred in the Bazar district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, near the Afghan border, in a region that has seen an increase in attacks in recent months.
The attack was attributed to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which for years has targeted polio vaccinators and police officers who ensure their safety.
The vaccine against polio continues to face skepticism in Pakistan, where conspiracy theories abound, particularly that the vaccines are part of a Western plot to sterilize Muslim children. Another of these theories states that vaccines contain pork fat and are therefore prohibited for Muslims.
This distrust, fueled by ultraconservative clerics, increased after the CIA orchestrated a botched vaccination campaign to find Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, who was killed in Abbottabad (North) in 2011.
Along with Afghanistan, Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio is endemic. In both countries, vaccination teams are regularly targeted by Islamist militants.
Pakistan has been experiencing a security decline for months, especially in Afghanistan's border areas, especially since the Taliban returned to power in Kabul in August 2021. Islamabad believes some of these attacks were planned on Afghan soil, where the attackers would be “Sanctuary”Kabul refuses.
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