Pakistani Taliban kill 6 policemen escorting polio vaccination team

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021

The Afghan Taliban (left) are closely linked to the Pakistani Taliban (photo: National Herald archives)
The Afghan Taliban (left) are closely linked to the Pakistani Taliban (photo: National Herald archives)
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PTI

A bomb explosion targeting policemen going to provide security for polio vaccination workers killed at least six police personnel and injured 22 other people in Pakistan's restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Monday, in the latest terror attack claimed by the dreaded Pakistani Taliban.

The incident occurred in the Mamund tehsil of Bajaur district in the province bordering Afghanistan, just when the police personnel boarded a van to join security duty with polio vaccination teams.

On 1 January, Pakistan's counterterrorism police said they had arrested nearly two dozen Pakistani Taliban members, which has allegedly staged several deadly attacks across the country, including a 2 January attack in which six barbers were gunned down in Mir Ali, a town near the Afghanistan border.

The injured in today's attack have been shifted to a nearby hospital, where an emergency was declared. A police spokesperson said all the casualties were police personnel, adding that some of the injured police personnel were in critical condition at a government hospital and that the death toll was expected to rise.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Pakistani Taliban has been fighting to impose the rule of Sharia across the Islamic country, has taken responsibility for the attack.

An official said the medical campaign has been halted in the area where the attack occurred and that all the polio workers are safe. Caretaker chief minister K.P.K. Arshad Hussain condemned the attack and said the war against terrorism would go on until the elimination of the last terrorist.

Polio teams are often targeted by militants in Pakistan who mostly oppose the vaccine.

The Pakistani Taliban have killed scores of polio vaccination workers and policemen guarding them in the past.

The TTP is a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war.

Many TTP leaders and fighters have found sanctuary in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover, which also emboldened the TTP to carry out more attacks on security forces. This has strained Pakistan's ties with the Taliban government, which insists it does not allow TTP to use its soil to launch attacks in Pakistan.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic.

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