Polio vaccination team shot in Afghanistan, four dead

Unknown shooters shot a polio vaccination team in the Afghan city of Jalalabad. Four team members died, at least three were injured.

So far, none of the militant groups operating in the area has claimed responsibility, says the coordinator of the polio vaccination campaign in the east of the country. In March, the Islamic State terrorist organization claimed another attack on a polio vaccination team, including in Jalalabad. Then three female team members were shot dead.

Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan are the only countries in the world that still has polio. Nigeria was declared polio free last year. Despite the fight against the coronavirus, Afghanistan tries to continue to invoke 9.6 million children against polio, with the help of UN Childrens Rights Organization Unicef.

Last year, 54 new polio infections were reported. The campaign resumed in January after a year of violence, preventing 3.4 million children under 5 years of age from receiving vaccines. The increase in violence and chaos are linked to the withdrawal of US and NATO soldiers from the country. That must be completed by September 11.

Conspiracy

Attacks on polio vaccination teams occur regularly in Afghanistan. It happens even more often in Pakistan. Last week, two agents accompanying a vaccination team were shot dead in the northwest of the country.

The Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups attack the teams and their security guards and are also targeting vaccination centres and medical personnel. They claim that vaccination is part of a Western conspiracy campaign to sterilize children or obtain secret information.

The number of attacks in Pakistan increased after the U.S. intelligence CIA set up a fake vaccination campaign against hepatitis as a cover in the hunt for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. It was detected and killed in Pakistan in 2011 by American commands.