Security has been stepped up for polio vaccination teams in the troubled province of Balochistan after a female child health worker was killed and another injured in the Chaman area on Thursday. Assistant Commissioner of Chaman, Syed Sami Agha told the media that the polio workers were targeted after unknown men on motorcycles opened fire on an immunisation team in Sultan Zai, a city near the shared border with Afghanistan.
He confirmed that one female polio worker was killed, while another was injured. "We have stepped up security for the immunisation teams throughout the province," the health minister for the province said in Quetta.
Soon after the targeted killing, the anti-polio campaign in the area was suspended, with levies forces conducting a search operation in the area.
The health officials said that around 1,50,000 policemen are escorting around 2,60,000 health workers in the new anti-polio vaccine drive in which over 2.5 million children in the province are to be administered the anti-polio vaccine.
Polio workers have been targeted by militants in other parts of the country as well and earlier this week, the police arrested several men in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province after they orchestrated a campaign to spread fear and rumours about the anti-polio vaccines causing illness among children.
On April 23, a policeman deputed with an immunisation team was also gunned down in Bannu.
Polio is endemic in only three countries in the world- Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Although, a relatively rare strain was also detected in Papua New Guinea at the end of last year.
Immunisation efforts have in the past been hampered by militants. They have previously alleged the immunisation campaigns are a cover for Western spies.