PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Militants have ambushed a polio vaccination team in a remote tribal region in Pakistan, killing two of the medical workers and seriously wounding another two, officials said Sunday.
The gunmen also attacked tribal police and the paramilitary Frontier Corps when they responded to the attack late Saturday, killing one paramilitary and wounding another.
Polio workers have come under attack on several occasions since it was revealed that the CIA used a polio vaccination campaign as a ruse to get information on Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. commandos in Pakistan in 2011.Those revelations fed into claims by Islamic extremists that the vaccinations are part of a Western plot against Muslims.
Pakistan is one of the only countries in the world where polio is still endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.
An official in Pakistan’s restive Mohmand Agency, Younus Khan, said two workers from the seven-member polio vaccination team went missing after the attack but later returned unharmed. He says security forces are still searching for the attackers.
Jamaatul Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed the attack.
Khan said the bodies of the anti-polio workers were handed over to relatives and their funeral will take place later in the day.
Provincial Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra condemned the attack, calling the polio workers “heroes.”
Associated Press writer Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, contributed to this report.