News ID: 313924
Published: 0142 GMT June 15, 2021

Five Afghan polio vaccinators shot dead

Five Afghan polio vaccinators shot dead

Afghan men carry the coffin of one of polio vaccination health workers shot and killed by unknown gunmen at separate locations in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on June 15, 2021.

Gunmen on Tuesday targeted an anti-polio drive in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least five members of two vaccination teams in separate attacks, officials said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks that took place in the city of Jalalabad, as well as in the nearby districts of Khoyani and Surkhrud, according to Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor in Nangarhar Province. Jalalabad is the provincial capital, according to AP.

Along with the five killed, at least four members of the polio vaccination teams were wounded, said Jan Mohammad, who coordinates the anti-polio drive for the country's east. Khogyani called the attacks cowardly, adding that two of the wounded were in critical condition.

"This is the work of the Taliban, targeting health workers to deprive people of polio vaccines," Nangarhar provincial police spokesman Farid Khan said, according to AFP.

Health Ministry spokesman Osman Taheri confirmed the attacks. The Taliban denied responsibility.

The Taliban often tell communities that vaccines are a Western conspiracy aimed at sterilizing Muslim children, and they also suspect immunization drives are used to spy on militant activities.

Officials say the Taliban do not allow door-to-door vaccination campaigns in areas they control.

A top United Nations official, Ramiz Alakbarov, condemned Tuesday's attacks.

"Depriving children from an assurance of a healthy life is inhumane," Alakbarov, the UN secretary general's deputy special representative for Afghanistan, said on Twitter.

"Senseless violence must stop now, those responsible must be investigated and brought to justice."

The country has faced a devastating wave of targeted attacks on politicians, activists and journalists which the Afghan government and United States have blamed on the Taliban, who routinely deny responsibility.

"We have reached a situation where systematically employees of demining, doctor, nurse, vaccinator, human rights defenders and anyone seeking to save our lives and our children are killed," said Shaharzad Akbar, the head of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission.

Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are the only two remaining countries in the world where polio is endemic, after Nigeria was last year declared free of the virus.

In March, the Daesh terrorist group said it shot and killed three women who were part of a polio vaccination team, also in Jalalabad.








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