KARACHI - Three more health workers administering polio vaccinations in Pakistan were killed Wednesday, a day after five of their colleagues were killed in attacks blamed on Taliban militants. The nationwide campaign to immunize Pakistanis has been suspended after the latest shootings.
The three killings came in two separate attacks Wednesday against workers taking part in the campaign run by the United Nations UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The gunmen are suspected of including Taliban militants, who reportedly oppose the campaign that they say is actually an attempt to sterilize Muslims, according to Reuters.
On the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, two men fatally shot an 18-year-old worker as he was vaccinating children, CNN reports. The two other deaths came in the city of Charsadda, when gunmen opened fire on a car carrying a vaccination campaign supervisor and her driver.
Along with Nigeria and Afghanistan, Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is still endemic. The Pakistani Government wants their 33 million children to be immune as fast as possible, using the 88,000 people work force. National health workers received the help of the United Nations' UNICEF and the WHO (World Health Organization) to fight the extremely contagious paralyzing epidemic.
The Pakistani government has renewed its commitment to the immunization campaign, with Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf condemning the attacks and praising the efforts of the health workers, reports the BBC.
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Polio vaccine drops (Wikipedia)