Islamabad: Two polio vaccinators — a mother and a daughter — were shot dead on Thursday by unidentified men on motorcycles in Pakistan’s Quetta city.
Quetta police spokesperson Abdul Rashid told Efe news that unidentified assailants shot the two women in the head after they had separated from the security team assigned to protect them during a vaccination campaign in the Shalkot area.
“It was an attack on the vaccination campaign,” Rashid said.
The large-scale anti-polio campaign began on Monday aiming to immunise 38 million children nationwide.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where polio continues to be endemic despite recent progress in the region.
In 2016, Pakistan recorded eight cases compared to 20 in 2015 and 306 in 2014.
Armed attacks by fundamentalist groups against vaccinators and their bodyguards have been the main obstacle in the fight against the disease.
The last major attack targeting a polio vaccination team in Pakistan took place in January 2016. At least 13 policemen and a civilian were killed in the suicide attack near a polio centre that was later claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
In April 2016, seven policemen protecting polio vaccination teams were fatally shot in Karachi in southern Pakistan.
Polio teams have been the target of militants after the Taliban spread rumours that the vaccination drives were a front for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilise Muslims.