Skip to main content

Polio workers come under fresh attack in Pakistan

By Shaan Khan, CNN
December 19, 2012 -- Updated 1512 GMT (2312 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four attacks take place on Wednesday, killing three workers
  • On Tuesday, five workers are killed
  • Pakistanis have viewed polio vaccination campaigns with suspicion

Read a version of this story in Arabic.

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Health workers administering polio vaccinations came under fresh attack in Pakistan on Wednesday, a troubling development in a nation that remains one of three in the world where the disease has yet to be eradicated.

Three workers were killed in separate attacks, a day after five others died in similar circumstances.

All of them were part of a massive vaccination campaign nationwide.

The attacks prompted authorities to suspend the campaign throughout the country.

UNICEF: Polio activities suspended
Bin Laden raid hurts polio campaign
The history of the Pakistani Taliban

Read more: At the U.N., a vow to eradicate polio by 2015

In Wednesday's attacks:

-- Two men opened fire on an 18-year-old worker as he was vaccinating children on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar. The worker died of bullet wounds to the head, said Dr. Janbaz Afridi, the provincial director of the polio campaign.

-- Gunmen opened fire on a car carrying a vaccination campaign supervisor and her driver in Charsadda -- killing them both.

-- Also in Charsadda, two female workers narrowly escaped when some men began shooting at them.

-- Three other female workers also escaped unhurt when they were shot at in Nowshera district.

All the attacks Wednesday took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province rife with Islamic extremists.

On Tuesday, five workers were killed: four in Karachi; and a 14-year-old volunteer in Peshawar as she and her sister were leaving a house after administering vaccines.

Pakistanis have viewed polio vaccination campaigns with suspicion after the CIA's use of a fake vaccination program last year to collect DNA samples from residents of Osama bin Laden's compound to verify the al Qaeda leader's presence there.

Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in May 2011.

In June, a Taliban commander in northwest Pakistan announced a ban on polio vaccines for children in the region as long as the United States continues its campaign of drone strikes in the region, the Taliban said.

CNN was not able to reach the Taliban for comment regarding the latest attacks.

Polio, a highly infectious viral disease that can cause permanent paralysis in a matter of hours, has been eradicated around the world except for three countries where it is endemic: Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

After the number of cases spiked sharply last year, Pakistan stepped up its eradication efforts. The numbers fell from 173 last year to 53 this year, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT