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Gunmen on Tuesday targeted an anti-polio drive in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least five members of two vaccination teams in separate attacks, officials said.
Along with the five killed, at least four members of the polio vaccination teams were wounded, said Dr. Jan Mohammad, who coordinates the anti-polio drive for the country’s east. Khogyani called the attacks cowardly, adding that two of the wounded were in critical condition.
Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are the only two remaining countries in the world where polio is endemic, after Nigeria was last year declared free of the virus.
In March, the Islamic State group said it shot and killed three women who were part of a polio vaccination team, also in Jalalabad, the capital of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.
Though not uncommon in Afghanistan, attacks on polio vaccination teams are more frequent in Pakistan, where the Pakistani Taliban and other militants regularly stage attacks on polio teams and security forces escorting them. They also target vaccination centers and health workers, claiming that anti-polio drives are part of an alleged Western conspiracy to sterilize children or collect intelligence.
Last week, two policemen who were providing security to polio vaccinators were shot and killed in northwest Pakistan.