Pakistan Taliban faction claims responsibility for assassinating senior doctor involved in polio eradication campaign.
Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a senior member of Pakistan’s polio eradication campaign in northwest Pakistan, police said on Sunday, in the latest attack on immunization teams by extremists.
Attempts to eradicate polio in Pakistan have been hit by militant attacks on inoculation teams that have claimed more than 100 lives since December 2012.
Doctor Zakaullah Khan, a seasoned member of Peshawar’s polio vaccination campaign near the country’s restive tribal belt, was killed late Saturday when gunmen on a motorbike opened fire near his house, a senior police official told AFP.
Imtiaz Ahmad, a provincial spokesman for the immunization campaign, also confirmed the killing.
A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, on Sunday claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement sent to AFP, the group’s spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan vowed to carry out more attacks.
Islamist opposition to all forms of inoculation grew after the CIA organized a fake vaccination drive to help track down Al Qaeda’s former leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. He was killed there by U.S. forces in 2011.
Despite the attacks, Pakistan hopes to be removed from the list of polio-endemic countries by 2018 by achieving its goal of no fresh cases for a year.
Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world along with Afghanistan where polio, a crippling childhood disease, remains endemic.