Peshawar – A Pakistani policeman was shot dead and another officer was hurt while guarding a polio vaccination team on Saturday, police said, in an attack claimed by the local Taliban a day after they called off a ceasefire with the government.
The militants on Friday ended a truce mediated with the help of the Afghan Taliban, accusing the government of violating the terms of the agreement.
Two men riding a motorcycle opened fire on police officers guarding a two-woman polio inoculation team who were administering vaccines to children in Tank district in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“The gunmen opened fire indiscriminately, killing one policeman on the spot and wounding another,” district police officer Sajjad Khan told AFP.
Another local police official, Kamal Shah, confirmed the incident and said the assailants had escaped.
Police guards protecting vaccination teams in Pakistan have come under attack before, mostly from homegrown militants.
The Taliban claimed the latest attack and put the death toll at two, according to a statement from spokesman Muhammad Khurasani.
They accused security forces of killing some of their fighters and violating the one-month truce.
The Pakistani Taliban — a separate movement from Afghanistan’s new leaders but which shares a common history – plunged Pakistan into a period of horrific violence after forming in 2007.
Seven years after a military crackdown on the movement, Islamabad is now trying to quell a comeback by the group after the victory of the hardline Islamists across the border.
In an audio message released late Friday, the group’s leader Noor Wali Mehsud said no progress had been made in negotiations with Pakistan’s government.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in October that the government was in talks with the group for the first time since 2014, facilitated by the Afghan Taliban, who seized power across the border in August.
Pakistan is one of two countries where polio remains endemic but only one case has been reported this year after 84 in 2020, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Picture: Getty Images