Three female polio vaccination workers have been shot dead by unknown gunmen in the eastern province of Nangarhar in Afghanistan, just a day after the country rolled out its nationwide polio vaccination drive, reported TOLOnews
Three female polio vaccination workers have been shot dead by unknown gunmen in the eastern province of Nangarhar in Afghanistan, just a day after the country rolled out its nationwide polio vaccination drive, reported TOLOnews.
The killings came at a time when Afghanistan and Pakistan remain just two countries that are yet to become free from the poliovirus.
A total of four vaccination workers came under attack in two separate incidents, happened with an hour of each other, on Tuesday morning in Jalalabad district, confirmed UNICEF; three among them, two volunteers and a supervisor, died.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Zabiullah Mujahid, the spokesperson of the Afghan Taliban, denied the group’s involvement in the killings.
This came as a big setback for the polio drive in Afghanistan which has just begun a day earlier and was expected to cover 9.6 million children in the country. Last year, Afghanistan reported 56 cases of poliovirus, second only to Pakistan which reported the highest cases.
Both countries, also home to various insurgencies and militancy, often see attacks against polio vaccine workers by insurgents and terrorists who see them with great suspicion, especially after the US tracked down the 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden using a fake polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan.
Condemning the killings of vaccinators, UNICEF released a statement: “Frontline health workers should never be a target of violence. They must be able to carry out their life-saving activities in a safe and secure environment.”
“We remain committed to supporting polio eradication drive in Afghanistan,” the statement added.
Taking to Twitter, US Charge D’ Affaires Ross Wilson said, “Attacking vaccinators is as heartless as it is inexplicable. This campaign is an important step to protect Afghan children from facing an infectious disease that can cause a debilitating paralysis.”